Air Quality and Shore-to-Ship Charging

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:04 pm on 29th March 2018.

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Photo of Alan Whitehead Alan Whitehead Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Climate Change) 5:04 pm, 29th March 2018

I do agree, and in a moment I shall refer to the support that the Government might be able to provide. If we are to roll out shore-to-ship power across the country, we shall need a combination of stick and carrot.

The £100 million that I have just mentioned would, however, largely be recovered—eventually—in fees in subsequent years, because ships coming into port would be charged for the electricity that they used, although it would be cheaper for them than using their own bunker fuel. It is true that some companies are making an effort to modify the fuel that is used by generators when ships are in port so that they run on, say, liquid petroleum gas rather than diesel or bunker fuel, but nothing comes close to the benefit of shore-to-ship supply.

So how can we make a break in the apparent stand-off that currently exists in the UK? Ports may be aware that shore-to-ship power is beginning to happen seriously around the world, and ships are increasingly turning up ready to go, but everyone is looking over their shoulder to see whether anyone else is moving first. It might, commendably, be Southampton—although even then the initiative is for only one berth, which is a start but leaves a long way to go—but Southampton should not be in such a position.

My central call this afternoon is for Government to take the lead in the creation of a level playing field for all ports in the UK for shore-to-ship installations by giving notice of an intention to mandate their use in ports by a specified date and, if I can venture a suggestion, to place aside a modest fund to assist ports in installing the necessary equipment over the specified implementation period.

That is not exactly a novel idea, because an EU directive already exists—directive 2014/94/EU, to be precise, known as the alternative fuels infrastructure directive or AFID. It says this on shore-to-ship power, in article 4(5):

Member States shall ensure that the need for shore-side electricity supply for inland waterway…and seagoing ships in maritime and inland ports is assessed in their national policy frameworks. Such shore-side electricity supply shall be installed as a priority in ports of the TEN-T Core Network, and in other ports, by 31 December 2025”.

Article 4(6) states:

“Member States shall ensure that shore-side electricity supply installations for maritime transport, deployed or renewed as from 18 November 2017, comply with the technical specifications set out in point 1.7 of Annex II.”

The Government have consulted and responded to the consultation on the directive, except that in the consultation they have scrupulously put the implementation of article 4(6) into train by insisting that statutory operators

“must ensure that new or renewed shore side supply installations must comply with certain technical standards”.

Frankly, I imagine that that will be fairly easy to comply with given that none exist. Of course, there is not a mention in the consultation or response of the rather more difficult point made in article 4(5).

In other words, as far as I can see, the Department does not intend to do anything about that. So my other call this afternoon—or rather perhaps a question—is about why the Department has apparently ignored one of the central points of the alternative fuels directive. Does it intend to put that right and get on with a programme of installing shore-to-ship charging before we are no longer mandated to do so at the end of the transition period of leaving the EU? Or does it just intend that such a mandate might just slip away and get lost after our exit from the EU is complete? If the latter is the case, that will be a sad outcome both for Southampton and all the populations of the ports around the country who welcome and support the port activity in their towns and cities but want those ports to be contributors to the health and clean air of their cities rather than detractors.

I hope that the Minister has a positive response for me this afternoon so that I can wish her, as well as everybody else, a happy Easter.