The Port of Milford Haven is a Trust Port, a statutory entity that was brought into existence by a specific Act of Parliament – The Milford Haven Conservancy Act 1958. There have been subsequent acts of Parliament to amend this original act, with the result that the following acts of Parliament essentially encompass the entire body of legislation and consolidate the various acts that constitute the Port in its present form:
- Milford Haven Conservancy Act 1983
- Milford Haven Port Authority Act 1986
- Milford Haven Port Authority Harbour Revision Order 2000
- Milford Haven Port Authority Act 2002
- Milford Haven Port Authority Harbour Revision Order 2012
Like the Memorandum and Articles of Association of a conventional trading company, these Acts are the constitution for the Port, defining what it may or may not do, and how it governs itself in terms of appointing its Board and conducting its affairs. The Acts confer certain powers on the Port within the defined port limits, for example in relation to setting the rules for navigation, the power for directing vessels and powers of compulsory acquisition. It also confers obligations, such as the obligation to maintain, improve, protect and regulate navigation, and rights, such as the right to levy charges.
The Port of Milford Haven is therefore an independent statutory undertaking not owned by anybody. The Port does not pay out any dividends to third parties, and nor does it receive direct budgetary support from government.
In addition to the MHPA Acts, as a subsidiary company of the Port, The Milford Docks Company is governed by The Milford Docks Act 1874 (as amended) which sets out its statutory powers and duties.
The Department for Transport has over the years developed a body of guidance for trust ports, the most recent iteration of which is entitled “Ports Good Governance Guidance". This guidance, which does not have any legal force, nonetheless authoritatively sets out principles of openness, accountability and fitness for purpose in managing harbours in the broad public interest.
It is in 3 main parts:
- guidance to all statutory harbour authorities (SHAs)
- guidance specifically directed at trust ports
- guidance specifically for local authority (LA) owned ports
The guidance recognises the particular circumstances of those ports and covers corporate governance, stakeholder engagement, provision of information, safety and a number of other topics.
The obligation on the Port therefore is (1) first and foremost to comply with the MHPA Acts as a fundamental legal requirement and (2) operate so far as reasonably practicable and relevant to the particular circumstances of Milford Haven, in accordance with the guidance set out in "Ports Good Governance Guidance".