“Maritime economy is a significant leading market for Lower Saxony”

Interview with Olaf Lies, Minister for Economy, Employment and Transport in Lower Saxony

Copyright: Ministry for Economy, Employment and Transport in Lower SaxonyMr. Lies, the 2014 trade accounts of seaports in Lower Saxony show an explicit upward trend. What do you expect for the coming years?

The maritime economy is a significant leading market for Lower Saxony. The key elements are the sea and inland ports, which reflect the entire diversity and range of the Lower Saxon sea ports and are essential for the German logistics industry. We aim to ensure, expand and strengthen the competitiveness of the ports in Lower Saxony. Therefore, we are in close dialogue and exchange with the ports and are currently working on prospects together.

We are aiming to achieve durability for the future and to launch the right investments. In 2015 alone, the federal state’s very own infrastructure corporation Niedersachsen Ports (NPorts) plans to invest 80 Million Euros into the maintenance and expansion of the Lower Saxon sea ports. Here, together with the federal state, NPorts puts its focus on the wind energy and automobile industries, agriculture and container handling.

In order to generate capacities for automobile handling, e.g. in 2015, the dolphin berth in Cuxhaven will be expanded and the one in Emden will be completed. Also, project planning regarding a berth for mega carriers will be finalized and with it Emden’s position as the second biggest port for automobile handling in Germany. In Brake, a central point for the handling of agricultural goods, the Südpier will be renovated and a second berth for mega carriers will be built. In Cuxhaven, the planning of berth no 4 (LP 4) continues steadily and we hope to realize it in the near future.  

As a long-term prognosis for sea transport in all Northern German sea ports, we expect an average growth of three percent per year until 2030.

The container handling in all German sea ports will double (+4.3% p.a.), however the significant growth will be predominated by the two existing container ports Hamburg and Bremerhaven and the new deepwater port Jade-Weser-Port in Wilhelmshaven.

How would you evaluate the opportunities for further development in Cuxhaven?

In the last years, the federal state strengthened the port of Cuxhaven and turned it into the leading offshore port on the North Sea coast. The existing berths are already intensively used for equipping offshore wind farms. Unfortunately, higher political decisions stopped us in our tracks, but the new EEG and the extension of the acceleration model have helped us to get back on track. The optimization of the existing berths requires reliable new businesses to settle down, so that the port infrastructure can be expanded on a demand-oriented basis. The federal state’s government will continue to develop the offshore terminal, on the basis of a concrete decision for a location. Not many European ports possess such good conditions for potential future businesses, cargo handling and logistics processes of the offshore industry. For area enlargement, the planning of project LP 4 was pushed forward by a notification procedure. Hence, I am very optimistic that Cuxhaven will further strengthen its position as a strong centre for the maritime industry in Lower Saxony.

In relation to the publication of the trade accounts, the “Hafen+” programme was introduced, which encloses ecological, economic and social activities of port companies and port management. To what extend does Lower Saxony lead the way with such a programme?

In their respective surroundings, the Lower Saxon ports develop diverse and innovative solutions for sustainable logistics. “Hafen+” labels the surplus, which exceeds the classical service of a port of handling goods and commodities. Particularly great emphasis is laid on sustainability. In this programme, activities of the port companies and the port management shall merge and not remain isolated. Furthermore, we will set our focus not only on the ecological and economic but also on the social aspects, focussing on the environment and social responsibility. Considering the demographic change and the shortage of qualified personnel, these actions are enormously important.

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