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UK Ports Association Welcomes New Border Pragmatism

13th June 2020
British Ports Assocation welcome news that the UK Government will postpone its post-transition plans to introduce full border checks on traffic arriving from the EU for six months from January 2020. Did you know that the UK Maritime Sector facilitates 95% of all UK trade, and is larger than both the automotive and aerospace transport industries? Above the Red Duster flies at the stern of a North Channel ferry. British Ports Assocation welcome news that the UK Government will postpone its post-transition plans to introduce full border checks on traffic arriving from the EU for six months from January 2020. Did you know that the UK Maritime Sector facilitates 95% of all UK trade, and is larger than both the automotive and aerospace transport industries? Above the Red Duster flies at the stern of a North Channel ferry. Photo: Jehan Ashmore

In the UK the British Ports Association has welcomed news that government will postpone its plans to introduce full border checks on traffic arriving from the EU for six months from January 2021.

This will be done for imports into the UK in three phases until July 2021.

Richard Ballantyne, the Chief Executive of the British Ports Association, who represents all the main ferry port gateways including Dover, Holyhead, Immingham and Portsmouth, said:

“This is welcome news. Across the board the freight industry has been telling government that it will not be ready. The risk of doing nothing could have led to issues for much of our trade with Europe, including severe congestion at ports. Delays and additional costs for freight operators get passed on and ultimately this sensible and pragmatic decision will mean British manufacturers and consumers are not faced with the increased expenditure, at least until a more formal border operating model is agreed by industry and Government.

Whilst the context of the Coronavirus pandemic means we have lost some time to prepare, the timescales were already challenging so a period of pragmatism will be helpful. There do remain questions about how Northern Irish traffic will be managed. Government must now speed up its work to agree a new long-lasting border operating model which ensures goods continue to flow between the UK and the EU and also between Britain and Northern Ireland.”

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, announced details of the extension which included arrangements for the funding of certain inland borders infrastructure. A new Border Operating Model should be published by July to outline what ports and businesses need to do to prepare. These measures are focussed on EU to Great Britain trade and there remain differences in approach for traffic between GB and Northern Ireland.

Published in Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

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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. 

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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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