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UK Seeks Bids For 'Motorways Of The Sea' Initiative

by Robin Pilgrim,, London

10 July 2007

The UK Transport Department on Monday launched a call for interested parties to bid for funds to finance projects in the North Sea region, as part of the EU's plan to establish 'Motorways of the Sea'.

Motorways of the Sea will be key routes between EU member states and, sometimes, neighbouring third countries. They are intended to encourage high-quality regular services that can be combined with other modes of transport to provide efficient alternatives to road-only transport.

This stage of the bidding process will close on 15 October, 2007.

Following the close of the first stage, all UK bids will be evaluated by the Department and any other relevant North Sea countries' administrations.

They will decide which bids will receive the necessary national government support to be eligible in the bidding process when the European Commission calls for bids for Trans European Network - Transport funding in December 2007.

The same call is being published in other North Sea countries as a joint initiative of governments and authorities in the Belgium and the Flanders Region, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom, as well as European port and ship owners associations.

The EC will make the final decision on which projects will receive funding.

Motorways of the Sea funds are available for sea-related infrastructure projects in ports, or which involve direct land and sea access to them. Qualifying projects could also include electronic logistics management systems, facilities to ensure and enhance safety and security, facilities to simplify administrative and customs procedures and facilities for icebreaking and dredging operations.

Start-up aid for shipping lines does not qualify for funding.

Total EU funding available for all Motorways of the Seas projects, across all qualifying states will be EUR310m (GBP209m) in the period 2007-2012. In addition to the North Sea region, other regional groups covering the Baltic Sea, the Mediterranean, Spain and France and the Atlantic will also bid for a share of these funds.

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