Upon his appointment as President of the Port of Valencia in August 2015, Aurelio Martinez Estevez was keen to find a solution to the long-standing issue of poor communication between the Port and City. He quickly proposed creating a Committee for the integration of City Port territories for the three ports and municipalities concerned: Valencia, Gandia and Sagunto.
The proposal was approved by the Port’s Board in late 2015, and three City Port Consultation Committees were set up. Valencia’s committee met for the first time in January 2016, the Sagunto committee has its first meeting in March, with the Gandia committee convening in April. The committees’ role is to take a multidisciplinary approach involving all of the administrative authorities concerned, to look at the most appropriate way forward for both City and Port.
Each committee is chaired by the Mayor of the town or city concerned. Committee members include the Municipality Councillor for Planning and the Directors of the Departments concerned (planning, territorial development, etc.), the President and CEO of the Port, and the Autonomous Secretary for Housing, Public Works and Territorial Development at the Generalitat of Valencia. Technical experts are sometimes invited to attend meetings on specific subjects. The committee’s findings are forwarded to the Commission for Territorial Integration, and the Board of Directors which gives the green light to implement the agreed commitments.
The first issues to be dealt with included redefining access to the ports, plans to extend the port at Gandia, and development of the Logistics Activities Zone and its potential impact on the urban district of Nazaret and the city of Valencia.
Other port cities in Spain and across Europe have shown an interest in the initiative, based on the Valencia example and the positive results obtained. In May 2017, the Generalitat of Valencia presented this new mode of governance for City Port relations at the port cities and port area regeneration day, organised by the Committee of the Regions and the Presidency of the EU 2017. It highlighted the benefits of the City Port Integration Committee as a mechanism for resolving potential conflicts in City Port interface zones, and convinced the Committee of the Regions to include it in its recommendations.
In May 2018, the Director General of Planning in Gipuzkoa, one of the three provinces of the Basque country, came to talk about the way in which these committees are organised and work in practice, and to get a first-hand look at the issues they have tackled.