The Government has announced details of its National Ports Policy, which will see it take a more active role in the managing of the country’s 19 ports.

The Department of Transport said the new policy will aim to ensure the State gets the most value from its shareholding in the country’s ports, while also encouraging private investment.

The Government will also seek to develop ports in different ways depending on the amount of national trade they account for.

Ports accounting for more than 15% of national trade will be classified in the Tier 1 category of National Importance, while those accounting for 2-15% of national trade will be in Tier 2. Ports in these groupings will be expected to respond to future capacity requirements amongst other things.

Ports which account for a lower level of national trade than this will be classified as Ports of Regional Significance, with local authorities taking a shareholding. Development in these ports will likely focus on regional freight, as well as marine leisure and tourism facilities.

The Irish Ports Association, which represents the port sector as part of IBEC, has welcomed the Government policy announcement.

IBEC Head of Trade and Tourism Policy, pat Ivory, said it was “essential that we have coordinated action across Government departments in implementing the strategy.”

The Irish Exporters Association said the new policy tackles key issues and “should bring efficiency benefits if effectively implemented”.