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Innovative modal shift initiative welcomed by Institute of Grocery Distribution

Freight by Water focus moves to North West as modal shift gathers momentum

Following the successful and well received launch in London of Freight by Water’s ambitious new initiative to develop a sustainable matrix of transportation routes using waterways rather than roads, a second Modal Shift Forum is being held in Liverpool at The Mersey Maritime Museum on Albert Dock, on Thursday 15th July 2010. The focus of the Forum will be on driving increased transportation of goods via the Manchester Ship Canal, particularly by major retailers such as Tesco and Homebase, and will feature presentations by Mark Butchard of the Mersey Partnership, Stephen Carr of Peel Ports, Andy Rickard of Liverpool Produce Terminal and Steve O’Connor of Stobart Ports.

The event has been warmly welcomed by The Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD), leading industry body for food and grocery retailing and supply chain; Senior Supply Chain Analyst for IGD Karen Chalmers, said: "In today’s complex and extended grocery supply chains, companies are recognising the environmental benefits that can be achieved by integrating alternative transport modes into lower environmental impact transport solutions."

Freight by Water is spearheading an ambitious project to create a viable UK wide service aimed at taking freight off the roads, reducing congestion and carbon emissions, as well as delivering a cost-effective sustainable solution for major businesses. A series of Modal Shift Forums are planned to reach out to key stakeholders from within the industry and to the leading consumers of transportation services. The first, held in London, focused on more effective utilisation of The River Thames and further events will be held in Humberside and Bristol.

"Against a background of increasing fuel costs, finding a viable alternative for freight transportation has become a priority for major companies – including the large retailers," states Peter Ward, Executive Director of Freight by Water. "However, the water transportation industry is highly fragmented and frankly would currently be unable to deliver a coherent schedule of routes that 3pls and their customers can rely on. Our role as an independent industry body is to facilitate change by bringing together all the key stakeholders – from ports and operators to logistics providers and major retailers – to drive forward a sustainable solution."

He added, "We have been encouraged by the positive response generated as a result of our River Thames Forum and are delighted by the strong support we have received from the IGD, who represent many of the leading FMCG manufacturers and retailers and whose stated goals chime with our own – to help shape the future of food and grocery supply chains and to develop and share best practice solutions.

This second Forum will focus on short sea and coastal distribution to and from the North West, with a view to maximising potential of The Manchester Ship Canal. Demand from users is demonstrable, now it’s up to the freight industry to put together a truly revolutionary but workable transportation mode based around water. This is a seminal opportunity to change the logistics landscape and create a virtuous circle for the future."

Freight by Water is a membership organisation that collectively represents ship, barge and port operators, exporters and importers, consultants and other maritime-related organisations.

It is a not for profit organisation which was established by the Government to promote increased use of short sea, coastal and inland waterways to encourage modal shift in the UK, delivering a range of economic and environmental benefits.

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