Resilient ports are vitally important to the UK because 95% of its supplies come by sea, including more than a third of the UK’s food supply. However, they are vulnerable to disruption from weather, industrial action and shipping accidents, amongst many other factors. Understanding, and overcoming, these vulnerabilities is essential for long-term stability and security.
Led by Dr Andrew Grainger and Kamal Achuthan (now at UCL), a prototype simulation tool for resilience planning at UK ports was developed. This takes into account all potential sources of disruption and the interaction between the diverse stakeholders.
Working closely with the Department for Transport, the tool has been validated and is being rolled out to major ports to reinforce their resilience through effective planning and response, thus safeguarding critical supply chains.
The tool has now been rolled out at key ports Immingham and Dover, and has supported discussions with Network Rail in increasing port line capacity. It has also been used to support management of “Operation Stack” on the M20 motorway. The work resulted in a commitment to strengthening ports resilience in the UK, including new government jobs focusing on port resilience.
The project has had attention at high ministerial levels, and cross-governmental involvement with the Cabinet Office and DEFRA, including participating in COBR (Cabinet Office Briefing Room) crisis response meetings and briefing Ministers. The project team was also invited to Chair wash-up meetings following the tidal surge in 2013. Cabinet Office officials commented on the success of this partnership and the impact it was having on maritime resilience, highlighting this work as a strong example of open policy development. Our collaborations with UCL and the Department for Transport continue.