Warrenpoint Harbour Authority (WHA) has published an Economic Impact Assessment which has highlighted the port’s value to the local economy and confirmed its position as the second largest port in Northern Ireland. The report carried out by independent economist, Ryan Hogg, working alongside Richard Johnston, an Associate Director in the Ulster University Economic Policy Centre and Board member of WHA, concludes that over the last decade the port has generated over £61m of GVA and sustained over 1550 full time equivalent job years for the local economy. GVA also grew at a compound rate of 4.1% in this same period compared to a NI average of 0.27% highlighting the growing resilience and importance of the port to the region.
The report also confirmed that 2016 was a record year for the port, handling 3.5m tonnes of freight, valued at £6.2bn. It highlighted that currently over 200 people work in the port every day with the Harbour Authority employing 65 directly. The multiplier effect further generates significant job numbers in the local economy. In 2016 alone, the port generated £7.3m in Gross Value Added for the NI economy through on-site activity, via its local supply chain and employees wage expenditure. In additional, companies that trade through the Port generate a further £25m of GVA for the local economy plus benefits for the Irish and UK economies.
Speaking about the report, Stan McIlvenny, the Chairman of Warrenpoint Harbour Authority said “We are delighted to report the significant and growing contribution that Warrenpoint Port makes to the local economy- both directly and indirectly. Importantly however, we are not standing still and the Board, staff, local stakeholders and industry experts are working together to develop shared plans for the future of the Port that will ensure that it thrives and grows, contributing even more to the economy of the future.”
The report also highlighted the strategically important nature of the port and its growing significance as a key component of Northern Ireland’s economic infrastructure. Local companies trade through the Port with customers in GB and Ireland, but also more broadly across the world including with Spain, Italy, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, the Ukraine and the Americas. It acts as a valuable gateway to export sales and as an import destination for goods from across the world destined for the island of Ireland. It also has made some inroads on the growing cruise tourism market – with each cruise ship visit to the port estimated to generate a potential £18,000 of GVA to the local economy.
The Port also promotes social initiatives by supporting charitable causes such as Mission for Seafarers and Carlingford Lough Sailability to helping those in need within the Marine Sector and Warrenpoint. Staff also take a key role in engaging with the local community through School visits, Sentinus Projects and by sponsoring several sports clubs and festivals.
The report also considers the challenges facing the port and chief among them is the fall-out of Brexit and what trading arrangements are established between the UK and the EU and other countries. Another challenge identified, to ensure the port remains competitive in the future, is the delivery of the Newry Southern Relief Road which would provide a more direct route for freight from across the island of Ireland entering and exiting the Harbour.
Peter Conway, the Chief Executive commented “The Port has been part of the fabric of society in Warrenpoint for hundreds of years and is an important catalyst for economic development in the region. It is a local business with international reach and the income generated from trading allows the Harbour and those working in the team to support a range of local initiatives and social enterprises, both financially and by giving their time. I’m keen that the Harbour develops and continues to support and grow the local economy and we hope that with strategic investment in projects such as the Southern Relief Road, we can continue to be a key component of the local and regional economy, whatever Brexit brings.”
The full economic impact study is available at: http://warrenpointport.com/port-in-the-community/documents/