Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
On 24 September the Transport Committee of the European Parliament supported removal of tax barriers for the uptake of shore-side electricity supply (OPS) in ports for ships at berth.
It was in the EP that the Ertug report on the deployment of infrastructure for alternative fuels in the EU* was voted by the Transport Committee and where it was pointed out that taxation has a major impact on the price competitiveness of alternative fuels. Furthermore, it was emphasised that disparities in energy taxation for shore-side supply for ships should be addressed. This was reported by the European Sea Ports’ Organisation (ESPO) on 25 September.
European ports are indicated to have welcome the vote in the Parliament and believe that energy taxation on electricity has been a significant barrier for the uptake of shore-side electricity for ships, being often the reason why it does not make a strong business case.
Currently, electricity produced from the combustion of marine fuel on board of ships is tax-exempt. But, when ships at berth are plugging into the shore-side electricity system, they have to pay taxes applied to electricity. It is understood that Sweden, Germany and Denmark have been provided under the Energy Taxation Directive with a permit to temporarily apply a reduced rate of taxation to shore-side electricity for ships.
ESPO believes that a permanent and EU-wide tax exemption for the use of shore-side electricity under the Energy Taxation Directive, would put it on an equal footing with electricity generated on board of ships produced from the combustion of tax-exempted marine fuel.
In the words of ESPO’s Secretary General, Isabelle Ryckbost: ‘Ports in Europe are investing a lot in onshore-side electricity infrastructure (OPS). Tax barriers, which make it for ships more expensive to plug in, have resulted in OPS installations which are often underused. This vote in the Parliament gives a strong signal. A permanent and European tax exemption for shore-side electricity for ships at berth would take away a great disadvantage of using electricity and would enhance its uptake, allowing ports and their surrounding communities to reap the environmental benefits of these costly investments.
‘Uptake of OPS would contribute to further improving air quality and achieving the EU climate targets. On top of that it reduces the noise of ships at berth. We now hope that the message also reaches the Commission, the national governments and the Ministers in charge of taxation issues.’
ESPO welcomed that the Evaluation and Fitness Check Roadmap of the European Commission on the evaluation of the Energy Taxation Directive (2017) made a reference to an exemption on shore-side electricity for ships.
The illustration shown is: © European Union 2014 - European Parliament. (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons license).
Readers may find more information about ESPO’s position here: https://www.espo.be/media/2018.06.18-ESPO%20position%20on%20energy%20taxation%20consultation.pdf
On 11 February the PAC published as evidence a National Audit Office memorandum titled:
The award of contracts for additional freight capacity on ferry services
The document is available here: www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-committees/public-accounts/Correspondence/2017-19/Memorandum%20for%20PAC%20-%20The%20award%20of%20contracts%20for%20ferry%20services.pdf
PAC Chair Meg Hillier MP commented: ‘The scrapping of the Seaborne contract, and the NAO review we have published today, raise serious issues which we will explore at our session on progress with Brexit preparations on Wednesday (13 February).
It was announced on 8 February that IMO has launched a new logo for its Women in Maritime programme, as part of its mission to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
Programme lead Helen Buni said: ‘The IMO Women in Maritime programme supports the participation of women in both shore-based and sea-going posts, under the slogan Training-Visibility-Recognition’, through a wide range of gender-specific activities. The new logo is just one visible part of the programme and will help women in maritime gain more visibility and exposure throughout the maritime sector and beyond.’