Improving Links: Integrating Logistics Centre Networks in the Baltic Sea Region (InLoC)
A territorial impact assessment makes a sound case for development.
Since May 2004, after the accession of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and Poland, the Baltic Sea has been almost entirely surrounded by countries of the European Union. Transport, and in particular shipping, is very important to these countries, as there are numerous cargo and passenger ferry operators on the Baltic Sea. Efforts to achieve more integrated and sustainable transport links are needed in order to cope with the significant increase of trade and freight transport volumes. Development of logistics centres will continue to have an important role in this respect.
These are some of the reasons why the project “Integrating Logistics Centre Networks in the Baltic Sea Region,” or InLoC, was established. InLoc – running from August 2004 to March 2007 - stimulated the business sector in the region by creating better conditions for logistics operations and by creating innovative, cooperative networks of actors in the transport chain and of actors involved in logistics centres. One of the project aims was also to analyse spatial and environmental consequences of logistics centres. Therefore, in 2005 the InLoC project made territorial impact assessments of selected logistic nodal points in four countries.
Territorial Impact Assessments (TIAs)
The experiences from the case studies were compiled by the Lead Partner of the project (The Centre for Maritime Studies, Finland) and based on the input from project partners (City of Vantaa in Finland, the Poznan Institute of Logistics and Warehousing together with the Gdansk Maritime Institute in Poland, the Vilnius Gediminas Technical University’s Transport Research Institute in Lithuania and the Technical University of Tallinn in Estonia).
The main objective of these territorial impact assessments was to examine the relationship between a logistic nodal point and a defined, focal area around this nodal point. Such impacts as those on traffic, spatial plans and land use, regional economy and the environment are considered in the assessments. The assessments were carried out in two phases. Firstly, the situation of the selected nodal points and focal areas and their interaction was studied. Secondly, the future developments of the research targets and future territorial impacts were assessed.
Muuga harbour as a case study
The Estonian case concerned the territorial impacts of the port of Muuga. Muuga Harbour is a modern and rapidly developing port. The harbour is formally integrated into the port of Tallinn, the largest port in Estonia. Therefore, the choice of the Muuga harbour for the study was well-grounded.
The assessment showed that Muuga Harbour has a geographically favourable location on the crossroads of the trade roads of east and west. The harbour is situated near the international transport corridor and the Via Baltica expressway. It is located near Estonia's capital city Tallinn, where the most of the industrial enterprises are situated. The harbour can also accommodate an eastward extension, as there is spare land available. In addition, the harbour has effective links for land transport in terms of roads and railway. Therefore, the location is excellent for the export and import of cargo from, and into, Estonia.
In predicting cargo volumes for Muuga Harbour, the assessment considered the fact that, in the future, there will be a decrease in the transit cargo of oil and oil shale products from Russia, as Russia is planning to increase its direct exports. However, it still foresaw a growth in cargo volumes in oil shale and generic goods and an increase in the amount of container goods.
In the light of this positive assessment, the extension work of the harbour has already begun. An oil shale terminal has been built and, in the immediate future, terminals for loose cargo and metal and generic products will be constructed and the container terminal will be extended. An Industrial Park with a Centre of Logistics will also be established within the harbour, which will make this area attractive to inward investment. This park will make a significant contribution to the effective handling of generic goods and container goods, through the provision of logistic services.