Fears over the capacity of Dover to cope with freight traffic in a no-deal Brexit scenario has seen trade re-routed into Humber ports but Dover’s “unique demands” mean contingency plans have focused on Kent, the Department for Transport said.
Associated British Ports, which owns the ports at Hull, Immingham and Grimsby, has reported increased trade through its docks after a major investment in its infrastructure at Hull, and Dafydd Williams, its regional head of communications, said Brexit preparedness was important for economic growth.
“At ABP, we are poised for growth and we are doing what we can to ensure a free flow of trade in the event of a no-deal,” he said.
With just two months left until Brexit, freight and ferry firms lack clarity on administrative requirements after March 29.
Mr Williams said: “What’s really important for us is that our customers know which pieces of paperwork they need in advance and that’s what we really need to see happen.”
He went on to explain that 2018 had seen major business growth at ABP’s Humber container terminals, partly as a result of Brexit, saying: “As people have heard about potential delays at Dover, they have looked at alternatives and the Humber is seen as a good opportunity.
“Last year we invested £50m in our port at Hull and we have seen the number of ships rise from five sailings a week to 15 a week based on a large amount of re-routing.”
Guidance issued by the DfT explained that freight operating through Humber ports is less likely to be time sensitive compared with often high urgency freight coming through Dover.
The department said it had carried out “significant analysis” and it does not consider the risks at Dover are replicated at other UK ports, even with some redistribution of freight traffic.