Divert from Dover and avoid crisis, says ABP
THE UK shipping industry could avoid a post-brexit “Armageddon scenario” by diverting sea cargo from Dover to eastern ports such as Felixstowe, the UK’S largest port operator has said.
In a policy paper handed to the Government this week, Associated British Ports (ABP) called for the UK to reduce its dependency on Dover and instead invest in ports on the Thames, East Anglia and the Humber. The operator said this would reduce disruption to trade by removing the risk of a “bottleneck” of traffic in Dover, which currently receives up to 16,000 trucks a day.
It comes after Tim Waggott, the head of the port of Dover, warned it was facing a possible “Armageddon scenario” of delays and traffic congestion due to tougher customs checks after Brexit.
ABP also urged the Government to consider establishing “free ports” on the east coast, which would abolish duties on imported raw materials or components used in manufactured exports.
“Ports and maritime represent a major global opportunity for the UK economy; an opportunity for Britain to increase its trade with countries throughout the world,” said James Cooper, ABP’S chief executive.
“To deliver on that potential, we want to see an industrial strategy that is capable of being genuinely transformative.” In its 10-point plan, ABP said this could be achieved by setting up a “UK Ports and Logistics Brexit Task Force”. Rishi Sunak, the Conservative MP, said: “Free ports are an exciting post-brexit policy idea that can turbo-charge economic growth in our regions, boost manufacturing and drive exports.”
However, Charlie Elphicke, the MP for Dover, said: “Everyone knows that the fastest, most efficient and best route for trade to the continent is through Dover – and we’re working tirelessly to see that it stays that way.”