News: Maritime UK and LGA Coastal SIG launch Coastal Powerhouse Manifesto

  • Brain drain crisis revealed in new poll of 1000 18-24-year olds across coastal counties
  • With 70% citing jobs as main reason, Maritime UK and Local Government Association Coastal Special Interest Group launch manifesto for a Coastal Powerhouse
  • Government urged to implement a clear plan for coastal communities, with majority of young seeing no sign of ‘levelling-up’ and 31% saying pandemic has damaged career

Coastal communities are set to lose at least 49 per cent of their young people, with the majority of 18-24 year olds already planning on moving away.

Jobs were cited as the overwhelming reason with 70% saying they would be more likely to stay if the right career opportunities were made available. 

Maritime UK and the Local Government Association Coastal Special Interest Group (LGA Coastal SIG) have urged government to come up with a clear strategy to stem the brain drain, through the launch of a new Coastal Powerhouse manifesto.

The document sets out proposals to boost connectivity to the rest of the country, extend freeports benefits to all coastal areas, install a shore power network across the coast to charge tomorrow’s Teslas of the seas and develop new skills in coastal communities, including digital skills.

Maritime UK chair, Sarah Kenny, said:

“Almost half of our coastal communities’ young are being driven away from their hometowns through lack of jobs, and unless government comes up with a plan, more are likely to follow.

“There is nothing inevitable about coastal decline. These areas are Britain’s gateway to the world, and can have a high tech, high skilled future as the engine room of our green industrial revolution.

“Our industry invests and creates quality jobs in coastal areas, and we are ambitious to do more, but we need the right policies and backing to unleash our full potential.”

The poll, commissioned by Maritime UK and conducted by Survation, also revealed the majority (46%) of young people are yet to see evidence of new investment, or improvement in living standards, despite government’s levelling-up agenda.

The survey also highlighted the impact of coronavirus across the coast with almost one third (31%) saying the pandemic had a negative impact on their career. Of those, more than one fifth (21%) were furloughed, 19 per cent said they had lost their jobs altogether and almost one quarter (24%) said their pay had been reduced.

These findings come after the Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, found English coastal towns have some of the country’s worst health, and urged for government investment in areas that included jobs and transport.

LGA Coastal SIG chair, Cllr Ernest Gibson, said:

“The UK coast has been a haven for millions this summer; but for the people living there it is a very different story. Our coastal communities have been amongst the hardest hit by the pandemic and without urgent intervention they stand to fall even further behind.

Councils are doing their best to prevent this from happening, but we need government to recognise that the challenges at the coast are unique and that a specific coastal plan and taskforce are urgently required.  Together with Maritime UK, we are keen to work with government to turn this Coastal Powerhouse vision into reality.”

The Coastal Powerhouse manifesto calls on government to ensure the coast is a central part of infrastructure planning, to attract inward investment through reduced congestion. Rail freight and green coastal shipping are identified as significant growth areas which could decarbonize the supply chain and increase connectivity with the rest of the country.

The policy document also urges investment in shore power, a proven technology enabling vessels to turn off their engines at berth in ports and providing the infrastructure to charge tomorrow’s electric vessels. While the vast majority of the world’s major economies have multiple, the UK does not yet have one in operation.

The manifesto underscores the opportunity of offshore energy growth, with coastal areas uniquely positioned to play a leading role in the UK’s net zero transition, from nearby yards building green servicing ships for these windfarms and those across the globe, and leading the way on future industries, such as floating wind turbines.

To date, coastal regeneration funding has overwhelmingly focused on heritage, recreational and arts projects, rather than the action required to generate higher wages and higher skill jobs.

Most recently, only 4 of the 44 projects announced in the latest round of the Coastal Revival Fund in 2018-19 could be described as ‘business’.

Whereas industries like maritime, which has a long heritage across Britain’s coast, is still urging government for £1billion co-investment to kickstart a decarbonisation programme, similar to the support other major economies’ governments are providing to their domestic industries.

It’s been found that £1billion co-investment would create 73,000 maritime jobs. Industry roles pay £9,000 more than the national average per year, and for every £1 generated by the sector, a total £2.71 is generated across the UK economy. 

The manifesto is being launched on day four of London International Shipping Week, which has seen global industry leaders converge on the city across more than 100 events, to chart the sector’s future as well promote Britain’s place as the world’s natural home for maritime.