In a recent interview, Southampton Port Director Alastair Welch discusses how the UK’s number one export port is helping to improve air quality in Southampton.
Air quality is consistently hitting the headlines in the media. In Southampton it’s been at the top of ABP's agenda for some time and during the summer ABP published its own plan to further accelerate improvements to local air quality – ABP's 'Cleaner Air for Southampton' Strategy.
Along with 40 other cities and towns in the UK, Southampton has been identified as having levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) above ‘the objectives prescribed by the European Union‘. The main contributor to poorer air quality has been identified as road transport.
In the last year we have introduced monitors to understand more about the air quality around us. In fact, we are the first UK port to carry out monitoring like this.
The Port of Southampton is the UK’s number one export port and a major employment centre within the region.
With its daily levels of activity, a heightened focus is placed on the port, together with an expected accountability around emissions. Environmental performance is a top priority for director Alastair Welch.
He is keen to ensure that the port is doing everything it can to be environmentally responsible. He said: “We’ve been working hard for a number of years on our response to local air quality challenges in the city. We’ve been looking at what we can do immediately to make a quick impact as well as longer-term options.
“In the last year we have introduced monitors to understand more about the air quality around us. In fact, we are the first UK port to carry out monitoring like this. When the results from a full year of monitoring are available, we will have a better understanding of air quality at different times of the day and year helping to focus our priorities and actions over the next few years.”
Alastair continued: “We already know that port emissions come from three main areas – shipping, surface access and port equipment. Some of these sources we are able to tackle on our own, and for others, we need to work in partnership with the people, businesses and industries which use the port on a daily basis.”
In the port alone, up to 40% of containers arrive or leave the port by rail saving over 500,000 HGV movements every year reducing nitrogen dioxide emissions by 80% and particulate matter by 90% for each container. Most of
the road freight is scheduled to arrive outside the main commuter times. ABP is continuing to work with the relevant authorities to further improve the rail and road networks and to promote cleaner vehicles. Campaigns to encourage no idling are also progressing well.
The port is replacing its own fleet of vehicles with electric ones and by the end of the year aims to be running 45% on electric.
The port is replacing its own fleet of vehicles with electric ones and by the end of the year aims to be running 45% on electricity. Electric car charging points have been installed for the fleet and are free for staff to use. ABP is looking to introduce a ‘cycle superhighway’ within the port to encourage staff with a sustainable travel to work option.
Initiatives from shipping partners to reduce emissions are also underway. ABP is already welcoming LNG-powered vessels to the port which negate oxides of nitrogen and sulphur as well as particulate matter. ABP Southampton expects a significant proportion of vessels calling at the port in the next few years to be LNG-powered. Some of the car carriers calling in Southampton have solar panels which significantly addresses their power requirements whilst in port. We have also partnered with Norwegian company ECOSubsea to develop innovative hull cleaning techniques that remove and collect biofouling from vessels, improving not only water quality, but improving the vessel’s hydrodynamics resulting in a 10-15% saving on fuel.
With many more initiatives planned over the next few years, Alastair wants ABP Southampton to be leading port in the UK for promoting sustainability, including being the first UK cruise terminal to have shore power and to introduce reduced port dues for greener vessels. Alastair, commented: “Progress has been made to improve air quality but more needs to be done. Our aim is to further accelerate improvements in air quality in the future. The majority of port staff are local and spend lots of time in and around the city – clean air is important to all of us.
“We’re very conscious of our responsibility to play our part in improving the local air quality. That is why we’ve been working with our customers, shipping and cruise partners and energy suppliers for a number of years to ensure an environmentally responsible ethos is a shared approach.”
ABP Southampton's new Air Quality Strategy, 'Cleaner Air for Southampton', can be accessed online via the following link: www.southamptonvts.co.uk