(Title Image: Stenna Line)
Ahead of an evidence session with the Welsh ports sector yesterday afternoon, the External Affairs Committee were told by several organisations that delays should be expected in the event of a Brexit “No Deal”.
The British Ports Association said (pdf):
“The impact of new customs requirements could be that roll on-roll off traffic between Wales and Ireland faces significant disruption from Government border checks and inspections. Such checks and delays represent costs for shippers and the freight sector. These costs will be passed on to importers, manufacturers and consumers. Much of the hauliers crossing the Irish Sea are heading to/from continental Europe (approx. 30%) and we understand that shipping operators are looking at direct services between Ireland and the continent, by-passing the British ‘land bridge’. This is not good for UK trade and not good for Welsh ports.”
The Freight Transport Association suggested a possible solution to overcome any delays either side of the Irish Sea (pdf):
“One possible means of resolving this would be to slow down sailings across the Irish Sea, with the result being possible congestion on the UK/Welsh side. At present, Irish Sea facing ports do not have the space available to hold waiting traffic as they have been built around the Just In Time business model.
“It is vital for Welsh and other UK ports that they are given clear guidance from the UK government as quickly as possible as to the future trading arrangements between the UK and the EU.”
Cardiff Airport’s Chief Executive, Deborah Barber, said (pdf) that a “No Deal” Brexit would lead to “considerable changes to operational procedures and policies” which could “result in considerable delays at passport control”.
The Chief Executive mentioned the recent Welsh Government-backed £1million purchase of passport e-gates as being done with this in mind as it would speed up passenger processing at border control.