I am amazed the port industry has not made more thorough and timely comments about the potentially negative impact of leaving the EU on their current and future businesses.
Though the impact on ferry links following leaving the EU is increasingly obvious – possibly disastrous – not least on the matter of customs regulations impeding speedy turnarounds and ship movement, but the affect on coaster movements is not so clear, though the customs rules may also affect coastal traffic especially container feeders.
Though be bad enough there will not be the time pressure that a big waiting ro-ro ferry on fast turnaround will exhibit. It occurs to me though that the shipment of new vehicles and their parts between the UK and the EU may be especially badly hit, not least because this has been a significant success story for several UK ports and car makers. Again no-one can be sure of the impact on the industries and ports concerned and I can only assume there will be some very concerned managers and workers at various levels worried about the implications for their futures.
In recent years, a very efficient European vehicle delivery network has developed sea-born, linking UK and continental ports and assembly plants. The Tyne has been especially successful in this field and a Tyne visit these days is rarely without witnessing a car transporter calling to deliver, but more especially to lift for export UK made vehicles to mainly EU markets.
On a recent visit to the Tyne, I witnessed Aquarius Ace arriving for another load, City of Amsterdam was due shortly. Sheerness, Bristol Portbury and Southampton have seen similar major car delivery activities. Don Wikeleys’ image from Santander shows the Autosky on a regular loop connecting West European and Iberian ports, in this case Pasajes, Zeebrugge, Rotterdam and Santander. She has been seen in UK ports from time to time.
There is news of formerly UK assembled vehicles being transferred for final assembly to any number of continental plants, including new plants in Slovakia and France, is hoping to attract more. It is a manufacturers market – they are spoiled for choice and the UK may be losing any advantage it has enjoyed from the presence of Nissan, Toyota and Honda which have in recent years boosted UK exports to Europe.