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Clouds from Brexit on Horizon for Holyhead's Lifeline Port

16th October 2018
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Local people in the port of Holyhead, Wales fear that Brexit could hit port traffic which is an economic lifeline for the town. Local people in the port of Holyhead, Wales fear that Brexit could hit port traffic which is an economic lifeline for the town.

#FerryNews - Trucks in their hundreds roll off the docks at Holyhead every day, bringing goods to and from Ireland in an economic lifeline for this deprived corner of Wales, which is now threatened by Brexit, reports France24. 

Just 73 miles (117 kilometres) from the Irish capital Dublin, the port's future will depend on how any Brexit deal affects two borders -- the one between EU member state Ireland and Britain and the one between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain.

The concern for many here is that companies will start finding alternative trade routes for goods travelling between Ireland and continental Europe to avoid Britain after Brexit.

With negotiators still at loggerheads in Brussels ahead of a key EU summit on Wednesday and Thursday, concern about increased checks is already forcing some companies to change tack.

Ray Cole, transport director at Virginia International Logistics, said his company was already using the service from Dublin to Cherbourg in France "whenever we can".

The cost for Holyhead, Britain's second biggest roll-on/roll-off terminal after Dover and an area that voted narrowly to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum, would be high.

"The problem that we have, it could affect jobs," said Michael Hartnett, a 50-year-old Irish truck driver. Port users had "zero information" about what Brexit deal to expect, he added.

The port sustains 650 jobs directly, according to Carwyn Jones, (First Minister of Wales: see Dun Laoghaire RMS Leinster story) and councillor on the island of Anglesey where Holyhead is located. Jones said the port was "absolutely crucial here to us".

At three-and-a-half hours, the link is the fastest between the Republic of Ireland and Britain, making Holyhead a key hub for major industries such as agri-foods, automobiles and medicine.

To read more including the costs potentially facing Holyhead but also a potential return of ferries operating duty free, click here. 

 

Published in Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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