As part of its inquiry into ports in Wales, the Committee heard evidence of dramatic growth in the cruise sector in some European markets, but that the number of cruise liners visiting Wales is constrained by the lack of appropriate facilities for them to berth safely.
Despite recent, welcome initiatives, the Committee urges the Department for Transport to show more ambition and to support more fully targeted investment in Welsh ports.
The Department for Transport should also assist the Welsh Assembly Government’s efforts to ensure investment in new facilities happens as soon as possible and that promoting Wales as a destination alongside other Celtic/Irish ports is a priority.
The report, which examined the importance of ports in Wales to communities and the wider economy, and cooperation between governments on ports policy issues, also recommends:
- The Department for Transport and the Welsh Assembly Government should develop a distinctive ports policy for Wales to identify where to target investment; different approaches have led to a lack of coherent strategic objectives
- The Wales Office should play a much greater role in facilitating cooperation between the two governments, given the division of reserved and devolved matters relating to ports
- Greater harmonisation of risk assessment methodologies is required between authorities to ensure consistency in monitoring threats to ports and allocating resources for security
- Dyfed Powys Police should receive additional resources to ensure it has the specialist capability required to deal with security at Milford Haven’s port
- Ports should be given a greater profile in transport and planning decisions locally, regionally and across borders
- Short-sea shipping or feedering services to transport goods from major hub ports should be developed to offer alternatives to road transport
The Chairman of the Committee, Dr Hywel Francis MP, said:
"A much more ambitious and proactive role is required by the Wales Office to ensure that a coherent ports policy is developed by the Department for Transport and the Welsh Assembly Government. There is a great deal of untapped potential just waiting to be mined in the cruise market which could bring significant economic, business and tourism opportunities to local communities in and around Welsh ports, and to the wider economy.
"It is an exciting possibility that Welsh ports, along with Irish ports, could in the future rival the Baltic cruise market which has seen rapid growth in recent years. But the necessary investment must happen if this is to become a reality."