Peel Ports Group has announced plans for a new £10million Green Automotive Hub in Merseyside to help power sustainable vehicle manufacturing ambitions.

Located on Queen Elizabeth II Dock at Eastham, within Peel Port’s Mersey cluster, the project will facilitate a greener end-to-end maritime logistics service in the North West.

The hub, believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, will sit on a 9.5-acre site on the River Mersey, adjacent to the Manchester Ship Canal, also operated by the major port group.

Launching in September 2023, the new maritime logistics hub will service a twice-weekly shipping route from Vigo Port in Spain to Eastham. It will take an estimated 14,700 lorry journeys off roads across the UK and continental Europe annually, saving approximately 17.5 million kilometres (c.11 million miles) in road trips.

Created in partnership with global logistics firm Suardiaz and leading automaker Stellantis, the service will supply parts for the Ellesmere Port vehicle manufacturing site, which will become the first of its plants to produce solely battery-electric models for both commercial and passenger vehicles.

This new maritime route, which will service the plant, is projected to reduce annual CO2 emissions by 30% and energy consumption by 37%, when compared to road travel.

Peel Ports and Suardíaz have invested a combined £10 million in recommissioning an existing berth at the dock and have begun installing the infrastructure needed to support the processing of the Roll-on Roll-off (RoRo) ships and their cargo.

David Huck, Chief Operating Officer at Peel Ports said: “A key part of achieving our sustainable goals involves working collaboratively with like-minded businesses, so it has been fantastic to work alongside Suardiaz and Stellantis. “The project is a progressive example of the collaboration required to make the maritime and logistics sectors greener.

“Our dedicated and stringent work to reduce our impact on the environment has seen several measurable successes in recent years, and this is the next innovative step as we work towards our goals.

“We have long advocated that reducing road miles is key to tackling climate change, but this can only be achieved by offering sustainable alternatives and choosing ports closer to end destinations.”

Juan Riva, President and CEO of Suardiaz, said: “Suardiaz provides logistics connectivity between the Iberian Peninsula, the Stellantis facilities in Vigo, Spain and the Ellesmere Port factory in the UK, seeking to deliver an efficient maritime solution which lessens the impact on the environment.

“This new service will commence as soon as the new facilities become operationally ready and, in this regard, I would like to thank Peel Ports for their proactivity and contribution to the development of this new multimodal solution for the Ellesmere Port factory.

“This game-changing move will remove trucks off the road, reducing road congestion and carbon emissions, and with our additional actions in using biofuels to power our ships and cold ironing, we are contributing to developing a sustainable supply chain which underpins the spirit in which Stellantis’ vehicles are manufactured.”

The creation of the Green Automotive Hub represents the latest sustainable move from Peel Ports, which in 2021 announced its commitment to becoming a net zero port operator by 2040, ten years ahead of the UK Government’s target.

In August 2022, the group also confirmed its Port of Heysham in Lancashire had reduced the carbon emissions of its landside plant, equipment and vehicles by 90% in what is believed to be a first for any UK port.