LO-PINOD’s aim was to make regional ports more accessible, sustainable and competitive transhipment nodes and thereby contribute towards a more balanced polycentric European transport network. This will benefit the economic prosperity and quality of life in the NSR, especially in areas away from global gateways.
The project sought to enhance selected segments of the multi-modal transport network, to demonstrate how it was possible to facilitate more efficient movement of goods, to make better use of available capacities and spread the associated opportunities beyond large gateways.
Three topics were addressed:
- Improving multimodal landside links, testing how multimodal schemes integrate regional ports to their national/EU transport network and to each other. This allowed for a better coordination of national policies and prioritisation of investment programmes at a macro-regional level in the future.
- Developing regional ports into efficient and diversified transhipment nodes through joint staff schemes to improve procedures, e.g. security and safety, and developing and integrating new markets
- Seaside accessibility and linking ports with towns by developing connections to main routes and gateway ports, and activities with local communities.
Decades of globalization have led to increased competition, congestion and pollution across main transport corridors, as transhipment of cargo focused on centralized gateway ports. Often, transport infrastructure investment decisions were taken based on local interests to ensure competitive advantage and lacked a coherent transnational approach to infrastructure propositions.
This resulted in patchy intra-regional accessibility, negative environmental impact and pressure on infrastructure around gateway ports due to rising traffic volumes. This pressure impedes economic growth and could be reduced by strengthening regional ports and ports cooperation.
The North Sea Region economy relies on efficient and resilient market access. Consequently, development of multi-modal transport corridors and links to the maritime transport network is crucial to support balanced economic development. Regional ports are vital elements of this system and require a polycentric development policy to expand their multi-modal offer (e.g. rail or barge) to more isolated regions, make transport more sustainable, and spread growth and opportunity more evenly around the North Sea Region.
Regional ports are not only places of commercial activity, but an integral part of the communities they serve and of the North Sea Region identity and heritage. However, industrialization and security restrictions have contributed to disconnecting ports from their adjacent municipalities, a trend which needs to be stopped to avoid alienation of ports and communities and public opposition to new development.