PORT bosses in Southampton have stressed the importance of a strong support from central government following Boris Johnson’s visit to the city.

Alastair Welch, inset, the director of the Port of Southampton, welcomed the leader of the Conservative Party yesterday morning and highlighted the need for the port and the government to work together to guarantee the Port of Southampton continues to grow while tackling environmental issues.

It comes as during his visit Mr Johnson praised the work Associated British Ports (ABP) is doing to tackle pollution but said that ships are still a problem.

He suggested that more provision of shore electrical power to ships could help tackle pollution in Southampton.

“At ABP they are very forward looking, they are looking at all sorts of low carbon energy solutions and that would drive lots of high skill jobs for a long time but also enable us to tackle climate change,”Mr Johnson added.

Mr Welch said improvements have already been made. “The challenge we have is to make sure we can accelerate that improvement,“he added.

He said the port in Southampton is critical for the country’s economy and added: “It is really important that the decisions being made in the heart of government absolutely support the growth of the port in Southampton. So any visit whether that’s by the Prime Minister or any other senior people is really important to make sure that Southampton stays at the heart of the government decision-making.”

Mr Welch said works with the government continue to secure shore powerand added that Mr Johnson was "very interested in understanding the progress that is being made". As reported, yesterday Mr Johnson also said tackling pollution generated by plane is “tricky” but when asked about the plans to expand Southampton Airport he said he would need look into that before commenting. More police officers and plans to control immigration were also among the pledges he made yesterday.