Liverpool-based Peel Ports Group, the UK’s second largest port operator, said on Thursday its ports at Liverpool, Heysham in Lancashire and Sheerness London Medway “have the capability to limit the impact the UK’s expected departure from the EU on 31 October is expected to have on trading.”
Peel Ports said that with a combined capacity to handle 1 million RORO (roll on, roll off) units per year, its ports could play a vital role in ensuring cargo flow freely through UK ports “as trade is expected to be challenging across the Dover Straits following Brexit.”
All three ports have already taken steps to improve resilience ahead of Brexit, Peel Ports said.
These include increased throughput capacity for HGV trailers and storage to support smooth trade operations by RORO ferries.
Peel Ports said that transporting non-perishable freight unaccompanied is faster and more cost effective than relying on driver-accompanied hauliers — of whom there are an acute shortage across the continent — to transport cargo from Europe to the UK and vice versa.
Routing via ports such as London Medway would be just as efficient as the existing options through the Dover Straits, as although the sea leg is longer, road miles are reduced, according to Peel Ports.
“Door-to-door, cargo owners could reduce cost, increase resilience, avoid congestion and reduce carbon emissions,” said the firm.
Elsewhere, Peel Ports-operated Heysham in Lancashire has unrestricted access to the Irish Sea and already caters for numerous daily RORO sailing from providers including Seatruck, Stena Line and Isle of Man Steampacket.
Peel Ports CEO Mark Whitworth said: “Our industry must address the risks of congestion.
“75 per cent of the trailer freight market between north-west Europe and Britain passed through the pinch point of the Dover Straits.
“The solution we are putting forward is a simple one, which will help maintain smooth trade and also offer increased value to cargo owners.
“Unaccompanied trailers offer more flexibility for longer sea crossings, taking advantage of capacity at ports other than Dover, such as London Medway.
“These journeys allow for clearance checks to be completed without the pressure of a 90 minute crossing increasing throughput and capacity.
“Using RORO also helps to alleviate the critical lack of drivers available on both sides of the continent.
“Elsewhere at our ports at Heysham and Liverpool, we have unrestricted access to the Irish Sea with daily services transporting cargo across the Irish Sea Hub.
“We know that these practical solutions will help our customers to mitigate the risk which Brexit could bring.
“We believe cargo owners and their logistics providers can ensure their supply chain is protected, regardless of the regulatory framework around Brexit, by embracing RORO and alternative ports across the UK.”