Westminster at helm for Dover

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 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

improved.



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

Southey.



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

through.



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

reduced.



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

through Dover.



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.



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