UK port investment roars past pre-pandemic levels

New research published by the British Ports Association reveals that UK port investment topped £1bn in 2021 despite continuing pandemic volatility.

UK port investment roars past pre-pandemic levels

The figures are being published alongside BPA analysis of new trade data that shows how continued depressed demand for fuel is masking a strong recovery across multiple cargo segments.

Investment in port infrastructure in 2021 stood at over £1bn, swelled by several big projects such as the £300m fourth berth at DP World’s London Gateway, which will raise capacity at the container port by a third. Significant investment in modernising port machinery, pilot vessels and buildings adds at least another £75m to the total, although this is almost certainly an underestimate as the value or existence much of this investment is not routinely published.

Other notable port infrastructure investments announced this year include:

  • £25m development of the Port of Lowestoft’s Eastern Energy Facility
  • a £50m expansion at the Port of Cromarty Firth
  • Teesport’s new £9.2m bulks terminal
  • the start of a new £60m programme of works to redevelop areas within Pembroke Port
  • £40m of investment in the Port of Leith by Forth Ports

Port investment is spread widely, with container ports, offshore energy, and cruise all seeing hundreds of millions of pounds of private capital pouring in, underlining strong confidence in the sector and its potential for growth. The last industry study in found that port employees at 55% more productive than those in the wider economy and that the ports industry employs over 100,000 people across the UK.