Peel Ports says Liverpool is 'ideally placed' to help overcome 7,000-truck Brexit queues at Dover

The Port of Liverpool is “ideally placed” to help overcome potential major Brexit delays that could soon hit Dover, Peel Ports has said. The operator said its facility can contribute to the ‘Team UK Approach’ needed to solve the major delays in the south, following a stark warning from cabinet minister Michael Gove on Wednesday. In his letter to haulage associations, Mr Gove warned that 7,000 trucks could be queuing for up to two days in Kent due to delays caused by Brexit, impacting ‘category one’ goods such as food, medicine and hospital equipment.

Peel Ports Group commercial director Stephen Carr said: “We have long argued the UK is too reliant on a few key pinch points in the South-East and today’s announcements demonstrates the risks to UK businesses of this strategy.

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“We have been preparing rigorously for many months and have invested heavily at our Liverpool, Heysham and Sheerness ports to ensure they have the capacity to accommodate cargo switch routes and modes. All three ports have already taken steps to improve resilience ahead of Brexit, with increased throughput capacity for HGV trailers, containers and storage to support smooth operations by RORO ferries and other shipping services.” A letter to logistics groups from Mr Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, warned of huge queues of up to 7,000 lorries outside Dover – if hauliers did not prepare for different customs rules at the end of the Brexit transition period in January.

It said a “reasonable worst case scenario” could see a reduction in the flow of traffic across the Channel hit 60-80%, which could also mean delays of up to two days.

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Visit our email preference centre to sign up to all the latest news from BusinessLive. The Dover Straits now accounts for roughly three-quarters of all Roll On-Roll Off trade with the continent – whereas prior to the signing of the Maastricht treaty in 1993, it was less than half – despite the fact much of the UK’s warehousing is situated in the Midlands and North of Britain. The Port of Liverpool has in recent weeks seen new ferry routes launched, with Spain and Portugal with CLdN in addition to more capacity being added to existing services.

Mr Carr added: “Potential delays and hold-ups post-Brexit underline the advantage of using ports closest to the origin or destination of goods. “Every minute that goods are delayed waiting for border checks incurs greater costs to businesses and stops the flow of vital goods such as food and medicines – an issue which has been brought sharply into focus by the Covid-19 pandemic. “The Port of Liverpool is uniquely positioned to offer this proximity to market, which allows goods to reach their end destination more reliably and with less reliance on increasingly scarce truck drivers.

This is a need which has never been more critical considering the changes in demand patterns we’ve seen this year, with added pressure of anticipated queues at Dover and long onward journeys from the South to the North of the country.

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“A port’s proximity to markets has other indirect benefits, not only acting as a strategic gateway, but as a facilitator of supply chain activity and as a catalyst for reducing carbon emissions of a journey. “Whether it’s full processing, product finalisation or implementation of storage solutions, being close-by means a port can fulfil a wide range of logistics activities, as well as minimises the risk of disruption as a result of transport congestion. It additionally offers environmental benefits given shipping’s relatively low carbon emissions when measured on a per tonne KM basis.

“All businesses will be impacted by the changes Brexit will bring, but the preparations undertaken by UK’s ports industry will relieve pressure on traditional routes, increase capacity and introduce new trade routes.

“The Port of Liverpool is an obvious, sustainable port of choice for those looking to avoid costly delays and future proof their supply chains.”

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