Haven Gateway: Maritime cluster must keep on telling its story, says projects director Richard Morton

CONGRATULATIONS to our Dryport partners in Emmen/Coevorden in the northern Netherlands who organised a Dryport congress – and got a full house.

More than 260 delegates, representing shippers, shipping lines, rail companies, terminal operators, consultants, logistics companies and local authorities attended the congress, entitled “A Smart Logistics Hub”.

They discussed the opportunities the region can offer for greener and more efficient logistics, and how a developing dryport can support the giant ports of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, particularly providing a smooth route into Germany.

“In the past our region hasn’t done lot in terms of marketing, and so ports and others would say ‘Emmen/Coevorden? Where is that?’,” said congress organiser Rob Spierings.

“But now they all see the potential, and understand what we are offering. We are talking about hinterland developments and opening up routes to new destinations.

“The congress was an eye-opener for some, while others were curious to find out where we are and what our commitments are. The way I see it, there is now a new dynamic, very positive energy, and we can develop from there.”

Henk de Jong, business development officer at Emmen, said: “All the people who were at the congress were enthusiastic. What we have found out is that we need to do a lot more on communication; businesses still don’t necessarily know what the possibilities are in Emmen/Coevorden.”

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That’s a message relevant to us all. The Haven Gateway has been recognised as a maritime cluster of excellence by the EU; Felixstowe is by far the UK’s largest container port and we are home to a huge range of expertise in ports, shipping and logistics. But we must never stop telling people about what we do and how we do it.

That’s where our involvement in key EU-funded projects has been so fruitful. By networking with port professionals from across Europe in the Dryport, Port Integration and Cruise Gateway projects, we have not only benefited from sharing experience and ideas, we have also continually raised the profile of the Haven Gateway, and what we offer, at an international level.

A new study by the German partner in Dryport, the University of Bremen’s Institute of Labour and Economy, has just completed a major study into “Governance and Conflict Resolution in Dryport Planning”.

The report recognises the Haven Gateway Partnership as “a platform for co-operation and economic promotion in the East of England”, explains recent expansion at Felixstowe, and outlines the work done by the Haven Gateway and Babergh District Council, joint Dryport partners, to identify logistics sites to support our ports and shipping sector.

We are now preparing for the final Dryport conference, to be held in Gothenburg in May, which will provide a platform for presentation of all that has been achieved in the three-and-a-half-year life of this project.