New minister for maritime: Robert Courts

A political reshuffle has resulted in Robert Courts becoming the UK’s latest minister for the Department of Transport.

Courts replaces Kelly Tolhurst, who served for just seven months before being appointed minister for housing, communities and local government, according to The Loadstar .

“I would like to place on record my thanks to for her [Tolhurst’s] dedication as shipping minister,” says UK Chamber of Shipping chief executive, Bob Sanguinetti. “She worked incredibly closely with the industry during Covid-19 and ensured freight could continue to flow into the country, and understood the plight of seafarers, helping convene an international summit on crew change.

“I look forward to working with Robert Courts as we look to take advantage of future opportunities for the UK shipping industry, including tackling climate change and the Covid-19 recovery.”

Courts, MP for Witney & West Oxfordshire, has taken over Tolhurst’s broad-ranging portfolio covering Aviation, Maritime and Security, an expansion on her predecessor Nusrat Ghani’s pure shipping role.

Courts has previously been a member of the House of Commons’ Transport Select Committee and was also parliamentary private secretary to the Environment Secretary before his appointment as Minister. In his new role at the DfT he will serve under Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps.

“We are grateful for Kelly Tolhurst’s commitment to the ports industry during her time as maritime minister,” Richard Ballantyne, CEO of the British Ports Association told SeaTrade. “Although it was only a brief spell, Kelly worked closely with the BPA and our sector through the Coronavirus pandemic. We wish her well in her new role.”

Ben Murray, Director of Maritime UK, also welcomed the appointment of Courts, telling Bunkerspot: “He enters the £42bn sector as we are on the cusp of one of the most exciting times in the history of UK maritime.

“With the sector having been in the spotlight thanks to its work in keeping the country supplied with food, energy, and medicine through Covid-19, we now turn our attention to green recovery.

“In the run-up to the Autumn Spending Review, he has the chance to help secure the £1bn investment we need from the Chancellor to turbocharge the move towards net-zero in the UK. Investment is needed now to innovate the new green ways of moving vessels to meet our net-zero obligations.”

Courts says: “It’s a huge privilege to have been asked to serve in the transport [department], with responsibility for aviation and maritime. A really exciting portfolio, which includes driving forward the work on the ground-breaking ‘Jet Zero’ council.”

The aim of the council, launched in July, is to tackle aviation emissions in line with the government’s 2050 net zero goal, aiming to achieve the first zero-emission long-haul passenger plane, according to Loadstar.

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