What makes a trust port?

A Trust Port is an independent statutory body, created by an Act of Parliament. As such, it is not controlled by a local authority, nor is it a private business. Instead, it is run by an independent board, for the benefit of its stakeholders, and governed by its own local legislation.

The duty of Trust Board members and staff is to ‘hand it [the port] on in the same or better condition to succeeding generations. This remains the ultimate responsibility of the board, and future generations remain the ultimate stakeholder’.* In other words, it is the role of the Board Members, and those working for the organisation, to safeguard and improve the port so that it continues to flourish.

A Trust Port differs from a privately owned port in that it has no shareholders who require a dividend, instead all “profit” or surpluses made from Trust Port operations are reinvested into the operation, maintenance and administration of the port.

There are approximately 100 Trust Ports in the U.K, and Trust Port status has proven to be a highly successful model for Aberdeen, since becoming a trust in 1961. It allows the Harbour to operate in a commercial environment with no direct public funding, but also enables it to compete in the open market with private and local authority-owned facilities that represent the vast majority of the United Kingdom’s ports.

Continuous Improvement

A long-term view is at the heart of everything we do at Aberdeen Harbour. We are committed to constantly improving and modernising harbour assets, services and infrastructure for the benefit of all our stakeholders. Major infrastructure projects can be undertaken with greater confidence and often with greater clarity than in other areas of the private sector. A Trust Port is also free from shareholder pressure, and traditionally, Aberdeen Harbour has refrained from increasing harbour rates above inflation unless it has had a specific harbour-related improvement reason for doing so.


There are many, many stakeholders of a trust port, playing an intrinsic role in operational matters and also shaping how the port is perceived in the local community. Stakeholders have a crucial role to play in driving Aberdeen Harbour forward. By working together, the board and stakeholders can deliver a vibrant, prosperous port that will provide a bright and secure future for many generations to come.

*(Modern Trust Ports for Scotland – a guide to good governance).