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Sufficient Capacity on Existing Continental Shipping & Port Services to Accommodate Displaced Landbridge Traffic - IMDO

6th November 2020
Port of Cork - showing the Pont Aven ferry to France (left) and Independent Quest cargo ship (right) safely docked after passage from USA Port of Cork - showing the Pont Aven ferry to France (left) and Independent Quest cargo ship (right) safely docked after passage from USA Photo: Bob Bateman

The Minister for Transport has today announced the publication of an important report by the Irish Maritime Development’s Office (IMDO) which reassesses Ireland’s Maritime Connectivity and concludes that there is sufficient capacity on existing continental services to accommodate displaced landbridge traffic.

Ireland’s maritime connectivity is essential to the continued supply of goods in and out of the country, accounting as it does, for 90% of Ireland’s international trade in volume terms. As such, Government has been focused on ensuring that Ireland’s ports, shipping operations and all the elements of the maritime supply chain continue to function for our economic wellbeing.

On 31st December 2020, the Brexit transition period comes to an end. This will mean additional customs and other checks on goods going to, from or through the UK. This could mean delays and disruption to the UK Landbridge for goods coming from or going to continental European markets.

Given this ongoing uncertainty and the prolonged impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Minister for Transport requested the IMDO to conduct a detailed reassessment of Ireland’s maritime connectivity.

The findings of the IMDO report are unambiguous; there is more than sufficient capacity on existing services in the RoRo network between Ireland and mainland Europe to cater, if required, for the landbridge traffic currently estimated at around 150,000 trucks per annum. It also found that the shipping industry is resilient, responsive and capable, without State intervention, of adjusting to and satisfying market demand.

Seatruck vessel Clipper Point in Dublin Seatruck's Clipper Point enters Dublin Port - In 2019, Ireland's biggest port handled 98,897 lorries Photo: Afloat

In addition to the analysis, the Department of Transport and the IMDO have undertaken intensive engagement with shipping operators in recent weeks. The message from the shipping industry has been unanimous and consistent; they have the means, the ability and the willingness to respond to changes in demand for direct services to the continent. This includes their readiness to increase services, redeploy ships within networks to better align with demand and introduce additional tonnage if required.

The IMDO recently launched a renewed communications campaign, which is designed to reinforce the message that shipping capacity is available to transport goods directly to the Continent. It also encourages businesses currently moving goods to Continental Europe through the UK to ACT now - ASSESS their supply chain, COMMUNICATE their needs to their logistic or shipping company and TRIAL the direct shipping options in order to keep their business moving.

Switching to direct maritime routes to the continent should be carefully considered because there is capacity; it’s reliable; and will help to avoid the procedural delays involved in transiting through the UK.

Welcoming details of the IMDO report the Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan T.D. said: “The IMDO analysis demonstrates that there is sufficient maritime capacity available to service direct routes to the continent, and importantly, that there is a strong willingness from the shipping industry to facilitate this new demand. There is no doubt that Brexit will disrupt operations on the UK landbridge and this report reinforces the need to prepare well in advance in order to avoid unnecessary delay. I would encourage all those working in the logistic and shipping industry to ACT now and pay heed to the advice of the IMDO. ”

Minister for State Hildegarde Naughton T.D. added: “The IMDO report should give comfort to industry that there are reliable services and available capacity on direct routes to the continent for businesses which currently use the landbridge to transport goods. From January, there will also be increased daily ferry services from Dublin and Rosslare to Europe which will add to this existing capacity. In line with the IMDO campaign, I would urge businesses to consider their options across the different modes of transport, communicate their needs to the shipping operators and trial these alternative routes in advance of the December 31st deadline. So ACT now and Prepare to switch.” Team

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