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Brexit deal or no deal - "The solution is Dover"

Port of Dover states that the cost of trying to divert traffic to other UK ports would be ca. £2.5B. Meanwhile, Samskip has announced another UK-near continent lo-lo service, between Hull and Antwerp

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Dover handles more international lorries than all other UK ports combined. Up to 110 miles of truck freight traffic pass through the port every day, taking advantage of the 120 ferry sailings a day on the shortest sea crossing to Europe.


The figure of £2.5B has been calculated by Oxera Consulting, LLP.

"With around half of the UK’s trade being with the European Union and with the just-in-time supply chains that flow between them keeping factories busy and shops full, delivering a frictionless solution at Dover is vital," states Dover Harbour Board.


"That message has been heard loud and clear with Britain’s reliance on frictionless trade at Dover firmly accepted by the Government along with the need to preserve it.


Tim Reardon, Head of EU Exit, Port of Dover, said: “It is clearly good news that the Government recognises the need to keep traffic flowing through Dover, not just for the port but for everyone who relies on the goods in the lorries. Trying to divert the traffic through other ports is a non-starter. The port capacity isn’t there, and a whole new fleet of ferries would be needed which simply doesn’t exist.


“Successful future trade with Europe must be about delivering a realistic solution. That means a free-flowing Dover, whose speed, efficiency and capacity cannot be replicated without adding significant cost to the supply chain.”


Dover has also been at the centre of contingency planning to minimise disruption in the event of a No-Deal Brexit. The port has been working with Government for months to deliver the plan, outlined in last October’s Customs Bill White Paper, for lorry traffic to be pre-notified to customs so that vehicles do not need to be held at the port.


"The first fruits of that work can be seen in the Technical Notices published by the Government on 24 September, which stated that health controls on animal and plant products from the EU would be carried out remotely, so that vehicles would not need to stop at the port."


Reardon added: “We are determined that our customers can continue to rely on Dover, so that their customers can keep factories busy, shops full and prices low for consumers across the UK.”


Between them, Dover and Getlink freight shuttles accounted for around 48 Mt of accompanied freight in 2016. Around 15% of the trucks are estimated to be reefer trucks, and many ambient trucks are also carrying JIT freight such as automotive components.


Shortsea lo-lo and unaccompanied ro-ro volumes have been growing on longer North Sea crossings for a number of reasons associated with a perceived need to establish an alternative supply chain model, such as driver shortages, "green" agendas, and investments in shortsea ports’ and shipping capacity, as well as fears of chaos in the Dover Straits in the event of a "no deal" Brexit.


However, with 2.6M freight vehicles a year using Dover and 1.6M using Getlink, a seamless solution has to be found for the Dover Straits corridor. The port of Dover is itself diversifying to reduce its dependency on accompanied freight and tourist traffic.


As if to underline the point that "lazy logistics" may underpin a good deal of Dover Straits accompanied truck traffic and it could be convertible to multimodal with a rethink about supply chains, Samskip is launching yet another shortsea service over Hull, this time with Antwerp, which marks it debut at Belgium’s largest port.

The initial schedule offers a twice-weekly service, with its first departure from Antwerp on the 12th October. The service will be operated by a 508 TEU capacity vessel, sailing from ATO’s multimodal terminal on Tuesday and Saturday and ABP Port of Hull on Thursday and Monday.


It is expected to bring an additional 15,000 containers to Hull on an annualised basis.

This new connection is in addition to Samskip’s existing shortsea services connecting Rotterdam with Tilbury, Hull and Grangemouth (eight per week) and the three times weekly Amsterdam-Hull service introduced earlier this year.

ABP Hull handling a Samskip vessel with its two new Liebherr STS gantry cranes
ABP Hull handling a Samskip vessel with its two new Liebherr STS gantry cranes

Richard Beales, Samskip’s UK & Ireland Regional Director, commented: “In combination with our daily sailings to/from Rotterdam and following the successful launch of our three times weekly Amsterdam to Hull service in March, we are excited at the prospect of offering a new solution that can meet the requirements of the local and hinterland market in and around Antwerp, especially given the excellent rail and inland waterway links available.

“Manufacturers and logistics providers have a new efficient choice that offers an optimal routing, reduces their exposure to increasing road congestion and driver shortages, is cost-effective and reduces CO2 in the supply chain.

"Also, with the current Brexit uncertainty we believe that our spread of dedicated short sea services can offer robust options for companies wanting to prepare by de-risking their supply chain.”

Extensive barge services connect to the ATO terminal including five times per week to both Antwerp’s deep-sea container terminals via the Scheldt and - via the Albert Canal - to/from the LCT Liège Container Terminal.

Johan Gemels, Managing Director, ATO, commented: “Attracting a major multimodal operator such as Samskip very much aligns with the growth plans of ATO and fits perfectly with our services of handling ships, barges, trucks and trains. We look forward to working in partnership with Samskip to offer a new and competitive option for customers doing business in Antwerp and the UK.”


ABP Humber Director, Simon Bird, commented: “It’s fantastic news that Samskip has favoured the Port of Hull once again as its premier short-sea departure destination. ABP has continued to drive substantial investments in its Hull Container Terminal, not only with increasing container storage space and state-of-the-art equipment, but also continual advancements in training our operational staff to ensure the best possible service and turnaround times for our customers.”

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