The importance of shipping and trade to the economy in the UK, an island nation, is business critical and we must continue to encourage and support the development of our port infrastructure to ensure our competitiveness in a global market place.
Our ports in Scotland are fundamental to our economic success where not only do they have a unique role providing a base for trade and employment but also in connecting communities. Over two thirds of exports in Scotland are distributed via our ports. The ports industry also offers a range of other important services supporting the offshore oil industry, maintaining ferry links to island communities, the growing leisure and recreation sectors as well as the largest fishing industry in the UK.
We must ensure that at all levels of government that policy plans and decisions, including local planning conditions, reflect not only the importance of our ports today but provide an environment in the future to support even greater investment and continued development of a world class supply chain infrastructure.
The success of our Capital City has been supported and has been dependent over the centuries on a thriving port in Leith. In fact, one of the campaigns by the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce was to create a time signal for ships in the harbour of Leith and the Firth of Forth. This resulted in a decision in 1861 to fire a gun from the castle each day at 13.00 and is tradition that still exists today.
The Port of Leith is the largest enclosed deep water port in Scotland. It has been the capital’s working port since the 12th century and has benefited from significant capital investment in recent years to develop the port’s infrastructure.
An exciting and growing opportunity for Scotland is the exponential growth of the Cruise Business. This is also benefitting our capital city where we expect this year to enjoy over 100,000 new visitors arriving on over 80 cruise ships. This provides new opportunities for all our tourism businesses and another opportunity to show cruise visitors what we have to offer and to generate the desire to plan a return visit to Scotland.
We look forward to new and exiting opportunities for our ports, a vital part of Scotland’s infrastructure. And whilst technology has moved on, our 1 o’clock gun in Edinburgh still provides that moment of reassurance that the latest electronic gadget is still keeping good time!