Brexit ‘directly hitting Welsh ports’ says economy minister as Irish plan to sail directly to France

MV Stena Superfast X leaving Holyhead. Picture by Reading Tom (CC BY 2.0)

Brexit will have a direct impact on Welsh ports as traders and hauliers bypass travel through the UK by taking ferry sailings between Ireland and France instead, a Welsh Government minister has said.

Stena and Irish Ferries will in January start running the new daily services from Dublin and Rosslare to Cherbourg in France to provide hauliers with a frequent service with continental Europe.

That will mean less traffic through Holyhead and Fishguard ports in Wales.

The Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport, Lee Waters, commented online that it would mean that “Brexit uncertainty” was “directing hitting west Wales ports”.

“So much for levelling up” he added, referring to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s promise to develop the economies of nations and regions across the UK.

The new ferry services will take at least 18 hours, making the journey longer than the current direct route through the UK to mainland Europe favoured by hauliers transporting time-sensitive loads.

However, it was revealed yesterday that trucks travelling to Holyhead from Ireland will need to drive to check-in stations in England before arriving at their destination.

No facility has been built on Anglesey to deal with the lorries and may not be ready for two years, so the lorries will be directed to interim sites in Birmingham and Warrington.

 

‘Direct’

According to the Irish Times, Minister of State for International and Road Transport Hildegarde Naughton has urged traders and hauliers to explore alternative direct ferry routes now, before border checks at EU-UK borders congest the “landbridge” route after Brexit comes into effect at the start of January 2021.

“Businesses need to act now and they need to start talking to their logistics companies, to hauliers, to the shipping industry and to start trialling those direct routes now,” she said.

She said there will be delays at British ports on the Irish Sea and English Channel whether the EU and UK Government agree a deal or not before the transition period ends on December 31st, and that there was free capacity on existing ferry services.

She said the direct route may not be workable for some companies delivering perishable food products and time-sensitive pharmaceuticals, but that businesses should start assessing this now.

“These are conversations that businesses need to have with their logistics companies, right throughout the supply chain, to maybe ask the question: do you need this delivered within 24 hours? Could it be within 36 hours?” she said.

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