Feature, Freight News, Sea

Time to rethink Dover dependency, says Peel Ports

[ June 11, 2018   //   ]

Peel Ports commercial director Stephen Carr is calling on the freight industry to look at the Irish Sea model of unaccompanied freight and to use ports across the country to mitigate the worst Dover delays post-Brexit.

He said: “We all know about the acute delays and problems that already exist at Dover when there’s the slightest disruption to normal operations. There’s a growing realisation in the whole logistics community that we’re at a tipping point that will force traffic away from the Dover Straits.”

In order to ensure they goods cam continue to be delivered on time, it would beed to move away  “from the fixation with Dover and by using unaccompanied trailers as many companies do already on the Irish Sea.”

Currently, more than 75% of all ro ro freight from ports on the near continent passes through the Dover Straits. The market is around 4 million units, of which 99% is accompanied.

On the Irish Sea, however more than 50% of the cargo is unaccompanied. In this model, goods can be held as contingency stock at the port of entry and trailers do not leave the port until up to 48 hours after their arrival in some circumstances. Such an approach would provide more time for border checks to take place without the pressure of them needing to be completed during a short sea crossing or at a congested border point, Carr argues.

Stephen Carr added: “Cargo owners and their supply chain providers typically need freight units to leave ports immediately on arrival or just 90 minutes after vessel departure from Calais. But there’s no certainty in the industry that this can be achieved reliably post Brexit. Companies could look at creating stockpiles in UK warehouses that will allow them to meet business requirements in the event of any delays, but that results in long leases and increased road or rail mileage in diverting to warehouses, increased handling costs, and increased risk of damage to goods. Also, it’s not clear that such warehousing is available in sufficient supply or on flexible terms.

“The modelling that we’ve done shows that routing via ports such as London Medway is just as efficient as the existing options through the Dover Straits, as although the sea leg is longer road miles are reduced. Door to door cargo owners might actually save money, as well as avoiding congestion and reducing carbon emissions. Other benefits include improved productivity for hauliers as drivers do not waste any time on the sea leg.”

Although not all of the UK’s major ports with ro ro capabilities currently have the necessary docking facilities and land, many could invest or increase capacity to accommodate goods diverted away from delays at Dover. Peel Ports operates four ports with ro ro capabilities in London Medway (Kent), Liverpool, Clydeport and Heysham (Lancashire).

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