Focus on climate change in new corporate plan for Port of Waterford
Responding proactively to climate change and emerging economic opportunities and challenges are among the key themes of the latest version of the Port of Waterford corporate plan.
Along with commercial development, infrastructure, people and systems, environmental sustainability is one of five topics prioritised in the plan.
Describing climate change as “an enormous threat to the global environment with very significant implications for our economies and day-to-day lives,” the plan says it is incumbent on the Port to play a proactive role in reducing carbon emissions from transport.
In the plan, the Port commits to minimising their environmental impact and reducing their direct and indirect carbon footprint. It will also continue to support Ireland’s renewable energy sector and especially enable further investment in wind energy.
Given the benefits of short sea shipping and rail freight, in particular, the plan seeks to take carbon out of the supply chain by promoting utilisation of the most environmentally-effective transport modes.
In their joint introduction to the plan, Des Whelan and Frank Ronan – respectively chairman and chief executive – note how while the Port continued to perform well in 2018 and the first half of this year, “the wider economic and environmental picture is complex and difficult. On the economic front, Brexit remains an uncomfortable prospect while global trade tensions appear to accelerate. Climate change presents us all with some formidable challenges…Our performance will follow the economies we serve and we must manage within that context.”
Dealing further with Brexit, the plan notes how the UK leaving the EU represents a challenge to the entire Irish economy and to the agri-food sector which is particularly important to the Port.
As the Port of Waterford doesn’t operate direct services between Ireland and the UK, no major operational issues are envisaged. The plan also sets out how Waterford may be able to accommodate some activities that no longer fit comfortably at Dublin Port while Brexit may increase the attractiveness of Waterford’s direct services to mainland Europe to those who previously moved goods using Britain as a land-bridge.
The Port has clearly stated its commitment to the local community in the corporate plan, recognising the importance of continuing to engage with all members of the community. As well as continuing its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme, the Port will support studies of the history, archaeology, ecology and geology along the estuary and work with local communities to advance shared interests.
With a staff of 40, Port of Waterford handled 854,426 tonnes of bulk in the first six months of this year, a 15% increase on the first half of 2018. Container traffic volumes were consistent with last year. Turnover was over €4.1m, an increase of 10% on the same six months in 2018 while profits were stable at just over €800,000. External factors impacting demand are making the trading environment in the second half of the year more challenging than in 2018.
The Port is also incurring start-up costs arising from the introduction of a new deep-sea container vessel service this year which is performing well to date.
Subject to the prevailing economic climate, the corporate plan envisages full-year revenues increasing to €11.6m in 2023 with an operating profit of €3.5m.
The Port of Waterford Corporate Plan 2019-2013 is available in full at www.portofwaterford.com.