Haven Gateway Partnership: John Winn on the realities of ‘sustainability’

REGULAR readers of this column will probably be fully conversant with the pervasive concept of “sustainability”. But they may be less aware that each year the European Commission devotes a whole week in Brussels for presentations from a range of regions and organisations (public and private) around the compelling issue of sustainable energy.

The Haven Gateway, living up to its Brussels accolade as a “maritime centre of excellence”, put on quite a show for the recent 2012 event.

Project manager Lisa Brazier had the task of explaining to a pan-European audience of politicians, NGOs and private sector representatives the inner workings of the Low Carbon Freight Dividend (LCFD), pioneered by Richard Morton as HGP projects director, with the support of the European Regional Development Fund through the Department for Communities and Local Government.

This project is about getting money (real cash, indeed) from public coffers into the hands of SMEs in return for getting containers off the roads and on to the railways (in the approved Euro-jargon, a process that is called “modal shift”).

Choices as to whether to commit a particular consignment to a particular journey within UK (from port to delivery destination) can be made on the basis of a newly developed Containerised Cargo Carbon Calculator, enabling (for example) the freight forwarder to relate the alternative modes of transport (road, rail or shortsea) to their predictable CO2 emissions.

Since public sector schemes always contain “buts” and “regulations”, it was good that the HGP contingent included, as speakers, private sector representatives who could give an unvarnished commercial view of the upsides and downsides of LCFD.

It will be interesting to look back in a couple of years and see just how much SMEs have taken up of the available finance. Quite right – Rome was not built in day – but, in the meantime, ring Lisa Brazier, get the details and make the most of what’s on offer.

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: : John Winn is chairman of the Haven Gateway private business forum.

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