Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard pledged his commitment to work with Belfast Harbour Port to achieve maximum economic growth.
Speaking during a visit to the Harbour in Belfast today, Minister Hazzard said:
“A successful ports industry is crucial to the success of our economy, not only as the main gateways for our imports and exports, but also as a catalyst for economic regeneration.
“I am keen to encourage the Harbour in their plans for growth, and believe that by working collaboratively with them we can develop an operating platform which will remove some of the legislative barriers that they have faced in the past. I also hope to be able to use my position to help the Harbour establish new routes and relationships with others and I have already held discussions with my Ministerial counterpart in Belgium to explore the possibility of any potential partnership opportunities with their ports.”
During the visit, the Minister received an update on current port activities and future planned developments from Belfast Harbour Chairman David Dobbin.
The Minister praised the work of the Belfast Harbour Commissioners.
“I congratulate the Harbour Commissioners on their continued success and on their drive and determination to develop the port as a key economic driver. I look forward to hearing more about their plans for the future and how these plans can be effectively aligned with the key priorities of the Executive’s Programme for Government.
"Belfast Harbour is a major economic asset for the region and I am delighted to have this opportunity today to see the scale of the operations and facilities at the Harbour and to discuss with the Chairman and his management team a number of important issues which are facing the ports industry.
“I want to ensure that we have a thriving and efficient port sector and I look forward, in my capacity as Infrastructure Minister, to working with all the commercial ports across the north as we consider how to ensure that their full potential is realised.”
Belfast Harbour handles approximately 70% of Northern Ireland’s sea borne trade and is a vital gateway for raw materials, exports and consumer goods for the entire island.
Minister Hazzard emphasised the importance of local involvement in the running of Harbour business and spoke of his responsibilities when appointing members to the Harbour Commission saying:
“It is essential that the Harbour continues to have local representation on the board and people who can identify the needs and ambitions of the surrounding communities and ensure these are at the very heart of future port plans. This is something that I will continue to encourage when considering the future appointment of locally elected representatives to the Harbour Commissioners.”
The Department for Infrastructure has responsibility for ports policy and the legislative framework within which ports operate in the north, including responsibility for the discharge of statutory and other duties in respect of seaports and harbours in the north.
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