UK Transport Committee critiques Government’s Maritime 2050 strategy


The Transport Committee of the UK Parliament has published a report on the Government’s Maritime 2050 strategy, calling for investment in new technology, cleaner fuels and workforce training so that the UK’s sector can compete with the world.

The cross-party Committee’s new report critiques the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Maritime 2050 strategy, published in 2019. It was praised at the time for taking a decades-long view, which is critical when vessels and infrastructure vary between countries and are built with lifespans of 30 years.

However, the strategy has since been criticised for lacking distinction between aspirations and actions to be taken. The Committee makes a number of recommendations on how to help both the sector and ministers achieve the strategy’s aims.

Transport Committee Chair Iain Stewart (pictured) said: “All the evidence we received about the UK’s maritime sector has shown it is resilient, entrepreneurial, and used to working independently from government. Nonetheless, there is an array of things government should do to support the sector and help it achieve its ambitions to decarbonise and remain a positive force on the world stage and for the UK economy.

“We commend the Government for being forward thinking in developing the Maritime 2050 strategy, but clarity and focus are needed to refine its muddle of 184 recommendations.

“The sector will need sustained support to overcome the challenge of radically cutting carbon emissions. We urge ministers to bring forward the promised Clean Maritime Plan, which will give industry the certainty it needs to invest in technology, new vessels, infrastructure and low-carbon shore power. Without it, we will fall behind other countries and miss our net zero targets.

“People make the maritime sector. Many will be supportive of the Government’s plans to enforce the UK minimum wage equivalent for seafarers who frequently work here, albeit on ships registered abroad, but this will not be sufficient to ensure proper treatment of seafarers. We urge the Government to bring forward its promised welfare charter as soon as possible and make it mandatory for UK operators.

“And while enforcing fairer wages should help repair the sector’s reputation after the shocking practices seen by P&O Ferries, we heard a lot needs to be done to raise the sector’s profile as a career option among young people, women and those from diverse backgrounds.

“More attention should also be paid to a problem seen in many sectors – skilling up older workers who may otherwise be left behind by the pace of technological changes. Autonomous vessels, for example, also require new regulation to clarify the skills that are needed.”