A new plan to create a climate for sustainable growth in the UK marine and maritime industry in the Solent, linked to the Solent Strategic Economic Plan, was published today.
The work was commissioned by the Minister for Portsmouth Michael Fallon, following the decision by BAE Systems to end shipbuilding operations in Portsmouth and has been led by Rear Admiral Rob Stevens CB.
It identifies marine and maritime as the largest sector in the Solent region and establishes the route to reinvigorate its ‘Global reputation for marine and maritime excellence through integrated leadership and planning, new technologies and promoting that ‘brand’.
Key recommendations include:
– Sector leadership by a unified Marine and Maritime Group working to the Chairman of the Local Enterprise Partnership to deliver a seven year strategic plan that will shape investment, growth, waterside planning and strategic transport decisions.
– Increasing the capacity of, and improving the transport systems and access for Southampton, Portsmouth and Marchwood ports.
– Improving transport links between Portsmouth and Southampton.
– The creation of Marine Manufacturing Hubs in Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight (including new company incubation centres) for prime and supply chain companies to work more closely with councils, colleges and research establishments to improve growth.
– Advanced research and development, particularly the creation of a National Large Structures Composite Centre within the region to develop and improve the composite manufacturing techniques in the marine, oil and gas and construction industries in partnership with local universities and regulators.
– Giving Further Education (FE) Colleges the flexibility to adapt the national curriculum to support local industry skills demands.
– Endorses the seven skills initiatives proposed by the Solent LEP including the creation of five new science, technology, engineering mathematics (STEM) centres and recommends improved funding for STEM courses.
– Creating a brand that promotes the Solent as a ‘Globally recognised centre of marine and maritime excellence with a unified campaign to promote the region.
– Linking all these initiatives around an iconic capability by locating and promoting Sir Ben Ainslie’s campaign to win the America’s cup from the Solent.
Gary Jeffries, chief executive of the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), says: “The report clearly demonstrates the opportunity presented by the Solent area to create a globally recognised centre of excellence for the marine and maritime sector in the UK. The Solent LEP is now considering the recommendations in the report in detail and we will shortly publish a formal response.”