November 28 - In a speech made last week, UK Major Ports Group (UKMPG) group chairman and Forth Ports CEO, Charles Hammond, criticised excessive regulation that has been imposed on the industryfrom the UK and the European Union.

"We play a vital role not just as a handler of virtually all of the UK's international trade. We also contribute to UK growth as major employers and partners to other key industries in the energy, chemicals and distribution sectors to name but a few," explained Hammond, adding that the improvements in productivity, safety and carbon emissions in the port industry are being funded solely by the private sector.

He argued that UK ports would fail to attract investment in the face of stiff competition if they are "burdened with excessive regulation and if the planning system is not streamlined". Hammond also addressed issues surrounding a discriminatory carbon reduction commitment and proposals for marine conservation zones.

Hammond then attacked the EU Commission and its plans to revisit port services regulation: "We had thought that after two botched attempts to introduce regulation into the operation of Port services, the Commission had sensibly decided to leave well alone and concentrate on properly applying the general rules of the UE Treaty to ports." He called for action against varying subsidies that favour northern Continental ports and serve to make UK ports less competitive; as well as asking the Commission to refrain from introducing "complicated unnecessary new bureaucracy" with regard to port service regulation.