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Transport strategy

Freight, logistics and international gateways

The UK's principal gateway for people and goods

From cars made in the Midlands to Scotch whiskey and Welsh steel, goods worth hundreds of billions are exported each year from the South East’s ports, airports and international rail connections to all four corners of the globe. These busy international gateways also support the movement of millions of people between the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.

Our freight, logistics and international gateways strategy will identify what investment is needed to better connect our region’s ports, airports and international rail links, supporting sustainable economic growth here in the South East and across the UK.

Nearly 15% of all UK trade passes through the Port of Dover, Europe’s busiest ferry port

Air freight at Heathrow alone accounts for 31% of the UK’s non-EU trade by volume

Port of Southampton is the UK’s principal port for non-EU exports, handling goods worth more than £70bn a year

Nearly 50 million passengers use Gatwick Airport each year, making it the second-busiest single runway airport in the world

More than 20 million passengers a year travel between the UK and Europe on Eurostar and Eurotunnel shuttle services, alongside 23 million tonnes of freight

Supporting UK investment

The South East is the UK’s window on the world, offering unparalleled reach and access to global markets. It’s why investment in the South East is a powerful enabler for growth across the UK, supporting the money already being spent in the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine to ensure those areas have strong access to supply chains and consumers across the world. And it’s why investment in a better transport network is so important for people not just here in the South East but across the UK.

Much processing of freight in the UK occurs in the “golden triangle” – an area in the Midlands where there is a particularly high concentration of national distribution centres (where freight is processed and distributed to regional networks). It is quite common for freight to arrive into the UK in the South East, be transported to the Midlands for processing, and then return to the South East for regional distribution.

This means that the road and rail routes that connect the South East to the Midlands and North of England are particularly important for freight. It also means we need to work closely with other sub-national transport bodies so that future investment is planned in a co-ordinated way across the country.

The South East contributes more to the national economy than any region outside London and is our country’s main international gateway for people and goods. That’s why we need to see increased investment in our transport infrastructure, growing the economy and creating jobs here in the South East and supporting the investment already taking place in other parts of the country.

Cllr Keith Glazier, chair of Transport for the South East