The South West’s ports and airports are playing an important role in supporting the region’s economy, and have the potential to unlock further growth, according to a major study.

The International Gateway Study published by Peninsula Transport, Sub-national Transport Body (STB) for Cornwall, Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay, examines the current and future performance of the south west’s ports and airports.

The report, which was developed in partnership with neighbouring STB Western Gateway, says the region has the potential to strengthen global connections and see an increase in the movement of people and goods. It highlights some positive trends:

  • Ports and airports could diversify into supporting new sectors such as offshore renewable energy and support emerging activities in the space and aviation industries.
  • Better connections between international gateways and supply chains could open new freight markets.
  • Access and general transport connectivity to ports and airports via road and rail could be improved.

Ports and airports are not only important for passengers and freight – they are also centres of economic activity which sustain jobs and generate revenue, says the study.

International gateways are dealing with changes in the supply chain caused by the pandemic, the implications of leaving the European Union and adapting to the need to decarbonise transport.

The study sets out a comprehensive set of recommendations to strengthen the peninsula’s global connections. Peninsula Transport will use the analysis to inform the transport strategy for the region by:

  • Contributing to the development of the proposed aviation and aeronautical engineering Demonstration Zone.
  • Facilitating communication between ports and airports with regional tourism and manufacturing groups to promote services, explore ticketing options as well as propel and scale new industries like offshore renewables.
  • Provide clear, sector specific information on freeports.
  • Make the case for the use and reinstatement of rail links to ports and airports.
  • Engaging with the Department for Transport (DfT) and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on the consistency of data collection.
  • Consider capturing Mobile Network Data to understand origins/destinations of goods to and from international gateways.
  • Working with regional bodies, businesses and groups on alternative fuel production, storage and distribution.

Councillor Andrea Davis, Peninsula Transport Chairman said: “Our International Gateways Study is an important first step in looking at how we can increase our global connectivity. We want to be able to support our ports and airports to deliver convenient multi modal, net-zero, travel that serves our visitors, businesses and residents.

“However, is it clear that better connectivity by road and rail is needed to enhance access and provide a better flow of both people and goods across international borders. The STBs have a pivotal role to play in facilitating many of the recommendations. Working with government we can help shape the future of international gateways and maximise their potential to support economic growth.”

The study is available on our international gateways webpage.