Starmer to set out plans for ‘historic’ £1.8bn investment in Britain’s ports

18 April 2024, 07:54

Keir Starmer
Keir Starmer visit to Wick. Picture: PA

The investment is part of Labour’s Green Prosperity Plan and is expected to bring in billions in private sector cash.

Labour plans to kick-start a “historic investment” in Britain’s ports as part of its green spending plans.

The party has already committed to spending £1.8 billion over five years on upgrading the UK’s port infrastructure if it wins the next election as part of its flagship Green Prosperity Plan.

On a visit to the North East of England on Thursday, Sir Keir Starmer is expected to say the money will lead to the most significant upgrade of Britain’s ports in a generation and billions more pouring into the UK’s energy industry from the private sector.

Before his visit, the Labour leader said: “The legacy of 14 years of Conservative rule is Britain’s industrial strength reduced to the rubble and rust of closed-down factories.

“They have let good jobs go overseas and done nothing about it – and every community has paid the price.

“A Labour government will reindustrialise Britain, from the biggest investment in our ports in a generation to a British jobs bonus to crowd billions of investment into our industrial heartlands and coastal communities.”

Coastal constituencies have been identified as a key weathervane for the next election, having disproportionately backed winning parties over the last 40 years, and polling suggests voters living near the sea have swung behind Labour.

The planned investment in port infrastructure will form part of Labour’s Green Prosperity Plan, which had originally come with a total price tag of £28 billion per year before the party rowed back from that figure, claiming the current Government had damaged the public finances too badly.

Labour sees such investment as crucial to its plans to decarbonise electricity generation by 2030, with ports playing a key role in delivering offshore wind power among other parts of the net zero transition.

But the Conservatives have criticised the plans as unrealistic and unaffordable, claiming they would mean higher taxes or more borrowing.

Sir Keir is expected to be joined by shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves and shadow net zero secretary Ed Miliband on Thursday.

Sir Keir Starmer and Ed Miliband
Sir Keir Starmer and Ed Miliband (Jane Barlow/PA)

Ms Reeves said: “Ports are critical hubs for our nation, providing over 90% of trade into the country, connecting people, providing services for maritime energy facilities and delivering value for local communities.

“Ports will be at the centre of Labour’s plans to make Britain a clean energy superpower.”

Mr Miliband echoed this point, saying clean energy “requires flourishing national ports”.

Overall, Labour has said its plans for green investment will deliver up to 650,000 jobs over the next decade, including 35,000 in the North East, and will be funded by closing “loopholes” in the windfall tax on oil and gas companies.

Ms Reeves said: “Labour’s Green Prosperity Plan is central in our mission to grow the economy. It will deliver tens of billions of pounds of private sector investment in the industries of the future, create hundreds of thousands of well-paid jobs across the country and put more money in people’s pockets.”

Claire Coutinho, the Energy Security Secretary, accused Labour of using the announcement to distract from questions about Angela Rayner’s tax affairs.

She added: “And once again they are committing to their unfunded decarbonisation promise, which Labour themselves say costs £28 billion a year, but they have no plan to pay for it.

“Straight from the same old Labour playbook, Ed Miliband’s unfunded spending commitments will take families and businesses back to square one with higher borrowing and higher taxes.”

The £28 billion figure originally committed to by Labour, but now abandoned, was for the entirety of its Green Prosperity Plan, of which decarbonising the energy grid was only part.

By Press Association