Holyhead port faces Brexit mayhem

Holyhead, Wales, UK: Irish hauliers fear mayhem at Holyhead port when the Brexit transition period ends.

Holyhead is the second biggest “roll-on roll-off” port in the UK after Dover, carrying 1,200 trucks daily and also crucial for Irish trade with the continent.

The Irish Road Haulage Association says the port is not ready to handle the changes, a charge denied by port owner Stena Line.

Ian Davies, head of UK port authorities, Stena Line, said that despite “very, very tight” timescales, the process will be smooth.

“We are live testing in the next two weeks. We’re starting to educate our staff on the new checking processes. We have always planned on the worst case scenario of ‘no deal’ because that’s the only thing you can base your preparations on and so we are now confident that we are in the right place for that,” he said.

“Trader preparation is a big question. That’s been hanging over everyone, but I believe that most of the guys now are fully engaged in the process. There should be a clear flow through Holyhead port for inward goods from Ireland.”

Stena Line confirmed the decision had been made to develop inland custom check points possibly in Warrington and Birmingham.

The Irish Road Haulage Association is concerned that border and boarding IT systems have not been tested for outbound travel. The European Union plans to enforce border controls on the Irish side from 1 January but trucks inbound to Wales will not face any checks by UK authorities until July 2021.

Eugene Drennan, president, Irish Road Haulage Association, said: “It’s a rush now these last few weeks to try and get systems together, to try and get things up and running and though the Irish side has a reasonable degree of preparedness done, some of it is very cumbersome.

“And none of it links up with Her Majesty systems. England and on that side, on the Holyhead side, they’re not ready at all.”

Direct daily ferry sailings between Ireland and France are set to launch from January in order to bypass Brexit mayhem in Britain. Stena and Irish Ferries will start a new direct service from Dublin and Rosslare to Cherbourg in France.

The crossing will take at least 18 hours longer than the land bridge route offered by Holyhead, but with border checks causing congestion, the time difference between the routes may not be that great.

The ferry companies plan to run alternate week schedules on their ferries to Cherbourg so that there is a direct, roll-on, roll-off ferry service for lorries every day from next year.

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