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The issues faced by clients in the ports industry

Ninety-five per cent of the UK's trade passes through British ports; and ports and shipping underpin the UK's economy. In recent years government has increasingly recognised the importance of ports as key international gateways.

Ports, harbours and the coastal environment in which they operate have been the focus of intense scrutiny both from UK and EU agencies ranging over matters such as the environment, port safety and port security.

The most recent policy changes have been proposed by the Eddington, Stern and Barker Reports which examined transport policy and climate change in the context of the planning system. Various significant legislative changes are now proposed by Government to the planning framework for ports. The Marine Bill proposes a new regime for a Marine Management Organisation, marine planning and conservation measures which will have far reaching effects on all marine projects including those promoted for ports and harbours.

How we can help

The former Rees & Freres Parliamentary/Public Law team joined Eversheds on 1 January 2008. The team has a much greater experience in advising port and harbour authorities than any other legal firm. We act as legal advisors to the British Ports Association whose membership comprises 86 port and harbour authorities located in the UK representing every type of port and harbour undertaking.

We have acted in the promotion of most of the recent major port infrastructure projects including the Container Ports at Felixstowe South and Bathside Bay, the Northern Gateway Container Terminal at Teesside, the Seaforth Container Terminal at Liverpool, the Ferry Port at Cairnryan and ferry terminals at Penzance, St Mary's Port, Isles of Scilly and Oban.

As a government consultee on the proposed legislative changes and as leading practitioners in this field, we can steer port and harbour authorities through the minefield of actual and proposed changes in the law. We also advise authorities on their statutory powers and duties in public and private legislation and in the promotion of harbour Orders and Bills in Parliament to effect changes as and when they are needed.