Dover Harbour Board, the operator of Europe’s busiest passenger
port, has appointed lobbying firm Westminster Strategy to advise on
European and UK Government moves which could cut its income from freight
and passenger traffic.
Dover fears it will lose money if European Commission plans to abolish
duty free goods in member states are carried out, as expected, in the
summer of 1999.
The port could also lose freight traffic unless its rail links are
The government’s Green Paper on transport policy, published last month,
argues for more freight to be transported by rail rather than road.
Dover has no rail link and could lose its freight traffic to the Channel
tunnel. ’We will use Westminster Strategy to lobby Government to improve
road and rail links to the port,’ said harbour board PR manager Keith
The port plans to expand and has bought land to develop. Westminster
will help lobby local councils which will need to give planning
permission for the work.
The port earns a tariff on every passenger and vehicle which passes
It expects to service 20 million passengers this year, 1.5 million
trucks and three million tourist vehicles.
Abolition of duty free would mean a drop in cross-Channel passengers,
according to ferry operators. Duty free accounts for one third of ferry
operator revenues. Without the income, ferry services may be
The proposed merger between ferry companies Stena and P&O could also
mean cut in services.
’We want to promote a greater awareness of what Dover contributes to
this country’s national trading,’ said Southey. Forty per cent of UK
seaborn trade to and from Europe, excluding fuel products, passes
Westminster Strategy pitched against two other firms for the work. The
agency has worked for Dover Harbour Board on a project basis before,
helping the port fight privatisation early last year. It advised when
Dover argued against servicing livestock transporters.