British ports can access a £10M (US$12M) additional fund from the UK Government to prepare for the UK’s exit from the European Union
As the UK’s politicians battle to prevent a no-deal Brexit [British exit] from the EU, ports will invest in infrastructure to prevent disruption to ship operations from longer border checks.
They can access the £10M (US$12M) Port Infrastructure Resilience and Connectivity Fund introduced by the UK’s Department for Transport at the end of August.
This funding will be open in the run-up to 31 October 2019, when the UK is obliged to leave the EU or request another extension.
The Department of Transport’s fund will allow ports to bid for grants of up to £1.0M (US$1.2M) each for infrastructure improvements to help mitigate disruption if the UK leaves the EU. This should help stakeholders and marine service providers in UK ports.
This additional funding comes as the UK faces a period of political turmoil and unprecedented changes for British ports.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson set his government to prepare for a no-deal Brexit while continuing to negotiate with EU leaders over the terms of the nation’s removal from the EU.
Parliament sits this week providing its members with opportunities to frustrate Mr Johnson’s hardline Brexit.
Politicians from across most parties are working to block a no-deal Brexit. A bill is likely to be introduced to prevent the UK leaving the EU on 31 October without a deal.
But Mr Johnson insists the UK will leave the EU with, or without, a deal on 31 October, and is prepared to call a general election if his plans are thwarted.
It is with this political background that UK ports need to prepare. Which is why British Ports Association chief executive Richard Ballantyne welcomed the Department of Transport’s funding for English ports.
This will help ports prepare for the potential new processes and congestion expected to arise in the event of a no-deal Brexit
“We welcome this new funding for ports which a number of operators will apply for to help prepare for Brexit,” he said, adding that ports will be ready.
However, Mr Ballantyne expects funds will only mitigate disruption at certain ports, not avoid it.
Ports such as Dover are at the front of the upcoming EU border and the Department of Transport has helped Kent County Council prepare for disruption from the increased border checks.
But other ports also handle EU-bound trade and require infrastructure investment, the British Ports Association said over the weekend. These include Holyhead, Immingham and Portsmouth that handle a mix of driven and unaccompanied vehicle freight between the UK and the EU.
Trade through these ports currently flows swiftly but could be disrupted with a no-deal Brexit. These ports are expecting to handle a huge increase in customs data from 1 November.
Disruption will affect other stakeholders in logistics chains, including tug operators if port traffic and marine operations are impacted.
“We rely on others – freight forwarders, hauliers, agents, government agencies – to also be ready for what is an unprecedented level of change potentially coming in with little or no notice,” said Mr Ballantyne.
He wants the UK and EU to agree on measures that prevent port disruption.
“While we are not a political organisation, we remain firmly of the view that a deal that supports frictionless, free-flowing frontiers is the best outcome,” said Mr Ballantyne. “And as far as we are aware this is still the UK Government’s aim. We still hope that the UK and EU can come to a sensible arrangement ahead of the deadline.”