A FREIGHT & Logistics Strategy for the north of England goes out to public consultation today, giving an opportunity to address the challenges that lie ahead for the sector, and calling on people to have their say on shaping the future.

The freight and logistics sector is vital for the north, with more than 33 per cent of goods entering through the region’s ports and 25 per cent of GB freight starting or ending in the north.

However, the sector faces challenges, such as a shortage of warehouse capacity, a lack of reliable and efficient east-west connectivity across the Pennines and a disproportionate reliance on ports in the south of England.

The draft strategy, developed by Transport for the North (TfN), showcases the importance of the efficient movement of goods, particularly for economic recovery and growth, and sets out the urgent need to take action to decarbonise the sector.

It also looks at the demand for a multimodal freight network covering road, rail and water, the potential for ports and freeports and sets out a delivery plan and recommendations.

The three objectives underpinning the strategy are: “the importance of accelerating delivery of the TfN Investment Programme interventions to support the north's economy”, “the need to accelerate the move to zero carbon” and “the strategic policy positions needed to develop to deliver the strategy effectively.

It reflects the objectives of TfN’s Transport Decarbonisation Strategy, firstly in achieving near-zero emissions from our surface transport network by 2045, and secondly in optimising the social and economic benefits from clean growth opportunities in the north.

Martin Tugwell, Chief Executive at TfN, said: “The freight and logistics sector is vital in getting us the things we need to go about our daily lives. The impacts of Covid-19 and the UK leaving the EU brought this into sharp focus, so now is the perfect time for the north to set out a strategy on how we can best support and enable the movement of goods around our region.

“Our Freight & Logistics Strategy is important, and we urge everyone to get involved in the consultation – not just those who work in the sector, but members of the general public and business community too.

“Getting goods to our homes and workplaces efficiently, reliably and in a sustainable way is only going to get more important in the coming years, so it’s essential we hear from many voices to help set us on the right journey for our future needs.”