Heysham Port 'significantly expands capacity' for Irish Sea trade access ahead of Brexit

Peel Ports said that services offered at Heysham will be "extremely favourable and attractive" at the end of the EU transition deal.

Thursday, 1st October 2020, 4:32 pm
Updated Thursday, 1st October 2020, 4:36 pm

Plans for "Brexit lorry parks", which could potentially include Heysham, as part of the government's Border Operating Model, will be announced within the next few weeks, a spokesman for HMRC told the Lancaster Guardian.

Lancashire is among the 29 council areas where the Government has proposed building the lorry parks after it granted itself emergency planning powers under the The Town and Country Planning (Border Facilities and Infrastructure) (EU Exit) (England) Special Development Order 2020, which was passed on Thursday September 3.

The Brexit transition period ends at midnight on December 31, when the UK will have officially left the EU.

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Heysham Port and power stations.

Negotiations over a post-Brexit trade deal between the EU and the UK are still ongoing, but today, October 1, the EU began legal proceedings against the UK after it refused to remove plans to override sections of its divorce deal, according to the BBC.

It described the UK's Brexit divorce bill as a "full contradiction" of previous UK commitments over how a hard border on the island of Ireland should be avoided.

A UK government spokesperson said the bill was a necessary "safety net" to protect trade between different parts of the UK.

Peel Ports, which owns and operates Heysham Port, said it is not currently directly engaged with any organisation to construct a lorry park across its port estate, including Heysham.

Lorries at Heysham Port

The company says it offers fast, efficient access to the Irish Sea and is perfectly placed to become a major distribution hub serving the Isle of Man, Ireland and mainland UK.

It describes Heysam Port as being at the heart of the Irish Sea RoRo (roll on, roll off) hub, catering for numerous daily sailings from providers like Seatruck, Stena Line and Isle of Man Steampacket.

The Bay Gateway, which opened in 2016, now provides direct, fast access between the M6 and the port.

A spokesperson for Peel Ports said: "We are in regular and active discussions with key stakeholders about the future planning ahead of the Brexit transition.

Ferry company StenaLine operates from Heysham Port.

"We have been planning for many months, and have invested heavily across our port estates and infrastructure.

“We have specifically expanded capacity at Heysham investing significantly in the yard, gate and linkspan.

"We believe that the services offered at our Heysham port will be extremely favourable and attractive at the end of the transition deal with increased throughput capacity for HGV trailers, to support smooth operations by RORO ferries and other shipping services.

“Furthermore, the shortage of HGV drivers in the UK continues to rise during these uncertain times.

Heysham Port and power stations.

"Using the unaccompanied freight model that operates successfully on the Irish Sea could help many businesses to reduce their impact by the changes Brexit will bring.”

A government spokesperson said: "In July 2020, the government committed to spending £470m on new border infrastructure to support ports in building extra capacity to meet the new control requirements where there is space to do so, and, if necessary, to build additional inland sites across the country where checks can take place.

"Engagement is underway with ports and we are speaking to Local Authorities about potential inland sites.

"Final decisions on all inland sites will be set out in due course.”

A spokesperson for Lancashire County Council said: "We are working alongside other stakeholders to consider traffic management arrangements around the port, in case they are required.

"Whether these are needed will depend on any new arrangements put in place by the government for goods arriving and leaving the port, following the end of the transition period."