On 5 March 2018, the Department for Transport published its new Ports Good Governance Guidance. The guidance is of significant importance to the Industry and applies to all in statutory harbour authorities (SHAs) in England regardless of port ownership model, and all SHAs in Wales until the devolution settlement comes into effect in April 2018 after which it will only apply to reserved trust ports in Wales.

The guidance is primarily aimed at SHAs whose harbour powers and duties are set out in legislation, but its principles are also relevant to all organisations that own or manage harbour and port facilities. It sets out principles of openness, accountability and fitness for purpose in managing harbours in the broad public interest.

The guidance is set out into three main parts:

  • Guidance for all SHAs;
  • Guidance specifically for trust ports; and
  • Guidance specifically for local authority owned ports.

The guidance recognises the ports' particular circumstances and covers corporate governance, stakeholder engagement, provision of information, and safety etc.

This guidance builds on previous regulation, such as the UK Corporate Governance Code, and signposts SHAs to other more detailed sources of guidance. It also replaces previous key guidance documents such as Modernising Trust Ports (second edition) published in 2009, and Opportunities for Ports in Local Authority Ownership published in 2006.

The guidance does not replace any legal duties or obligations that SHAs have in their local legislation or in general acts such as the Harbours Act 1964. However, the Department for Transport expects SHAs to carefully consider this guidance and implement its principles.