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CILT warns of declining UK competitiveness

LONDON: As part of its "Vision 2035" initiative, the UK-based Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) has launched a report detailing the challenges facing the growth of logistics in Britain.

Produced by a team of experts headed by Professor Alan Braithwaite from the Cranfield School of Management, the report says Britain "need[s] to think radically about freight and logistics or find ourselves falling down the World Bank rankings, experiencing supply chain shocks, declining economic performance and missed carbon targets."

Port of FelixstoweIn a month when the European Commission announced it is to fine Britain £300 million for not achieving agreed carbon reduction targets by 2010, the report notes a new vision for UK freight and logistics must be based on a "dramatically increased" private and government investment in major road and rail infrastructure, ports, interchanges and warehouses. "At the same time supply chain structures and networks will need to change fundamentally if the economic and carbon goals are to be met, and this will involve leveraging new technologies and new locations alongside existing modes," adds the authors.

The report recommends commercial vehicle taxation should be re-examined and ideally be replaced by a lorry-user charging system based on road occupancy; planning for urban hubs should be made a priority and local authorities given powers to purchase land and determine its use for such schemes to relieve congestion in Britain's cities and major towns; all major distribution parks should be planned with a presumption of rail connection and suitable sites identified nationally and facilitated by local authorities; and planning for new infrastructure should be considered as of national importance and take precedence over local agendas.

Commenting on the report CILT chief executive Steve Agg said: 'The UK is already congested and we cannot rely on market-driven solutions alone, we need direct policy input to facilitate engagement. This is about giving industry the confidence to invest to serve supply chains and meet the needs of local communities and national interests."

The CILT calculates the UK logistics sector employs 1.7 to 2.2 million people, depending on research definitions, producing a collective turnover of £770 billion.

The association claims that without an efficient freight transport network the UK will be increasingly exposed, relative to its global competition, to rising commodity, energy and consumer prices, reduced availability of goods and more expensive services. In 2011, Britain exported £298 billion and imported £399 billion of merchandise all of which was handled by the freight and logistics sector with a direct impact on UK value-add and competitiveness.

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