The new Ports and Shipping Minister, Robert Goodwill MP, paid his first official visit to a UK port on Thursday (25 June) at the Port of Tyne.

Mr Goodwill has been MP for Scarborough and Whitby since 2005. He is a former MEP who is responsible for high speed rail (HS2), aviation, Europe and international affairs and maritime transport, including the completion of the Maritime Growth Study which entails a full review of the nation’s shipping industry and its international competitiveness.

Ports and Shipping Minister Robert Goodwill said: “The Port of Tyne is a model of innovation and a major contributor to both the local and national economy.

“The government is strengthening the UK’s maritime sector as part of our long-term economic plan. Our Maritime Growth Study, due to report later this year, will help ensure Britain remains competitive and a world leader in this vital industry.”

While on a tour of the Port’s 600 acre estate, the Minister saw the rapid progress being made on a £25 million project on the Port’s estate.  The Port is currently investing in the construction and refurbishment of 329 metres of quays, which comprises a 125 metre extension to the existing Riverside Quay deep-water facility, refurbishment of 118 metres of the same quay and initial expenditure in the strengthening of 86 metres of quays at the adjacent former McNulty site.  This investment will mean that the Port is able to provide almost one kilometre of operational quays for a variety of cargoes, increasing the Port’s competitiveness and enhancing the services it provides.  Scheduled for completion in 2016, the investment will increase capacity to handle a wide range of bulk cargoes by almost 20%, expanding the Port’s ability to compete effectively in new and existing markets.

Hilary Florek, Port of Tyne Chairman, said: “The Port of Tyne added over £560 million to the North East’s GVA in 2014 and its continued investment in port infrastructure is critical to the future economic growth and success of the region and the UK.”

Andrew Moffat, Port of Tyne Chief Executive Officer, and also Chairman of the British Ports’ Association, said: “Mr Goodwill comes into office at an interesting time for the UK’s ports and their potential to support the country’s economic growth.  At the Port of Tyne we have ambitious plans for growth and we are already investing further in our infrastructure to meet the requirements of our customers and to be able to keep pace with the changes in the shipping industry, from regulatory reform to the ever-growing size of the ships themselves, which of course places different demands on our river and quay infrastructure.”