Posted: Thu 14th Jan 2021

Concerns raised over ‘disastrous’ loss of ferry traffic to Holyhead as Stena Line says volumes are down 70 per cent

North Wales news and information
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Jan 14th, 2021

Concerns have been raised over the “disastrous” loss of ferry traffic to Holyhead in the wake of Brexit.

Stena Line has reported that the volume of exporters passing through the town’s port to get to Dublin has reduced by 70% in the first two weeks of 2021, compared to the same period the previous year.

Companies are said to be taking alternative routes to avoid delays getting to the Republic of Ireland, with extra paperwork now required to move goods across the Irish Sea.

Arfon MP Hywel Williams raised the issue with Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove this week.

Speaking in the House of Commons, he asked whether the impact on the wider North Wales economy had been considered.

He said: “Ferry traffic between Dublin and North Wales has diminished markedly as exporters apparently opt for alternative routes.

“Can the minister tell me, how many Northern Ireland exporters are now choosing direct ferry services from the Republic to the EU, rather than using the UK land bridge.

“Is he aware of any government assessments of the economic impact of this re-routing from the Port of Holyhead and on the wide economy of north west Wales?”

In response, Mr Gove said: “The honourable gentleman is right. There is a new route from the Republic of Ireland to France, but there’s no evidence yet that it has taken anything but a small fraction of the trade which goes through the land bridge.

“I’ll be talking to colleagues from the Welsh Government later this afternoon about everything we can do in order to make sure that Holyhead flourishes in the future.”

However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeared to indicate that traffic avoiding Holyhead was instead a sign of the success of Brexit.

Speaking at a Liaison Committee, he said: “The situation in Northern Ireland is that trade is flowing smoothly as I understand it and exporters are benefiting from the unfettered access between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

“I believe that things are flowing so smoothly from GB to NI, for instance, that many hauliers are now using that route, rather than the Holyhead to Dublin route.

“I’m not going to deny down that there are teething problems and there are issues that we need to sort out and there are changes involved, but the deal has been a great, great assistance to our businesses in smoothing things.”

Reacting to the comments, Mr Williams said: “For years Plaid Cymru warned that the UK Government’s reckless approach to talks with the EU and its lack of preparation would lead to difficulties for Welsh ports but were repeatedly rebuffed.

“Even when the significant loss of traffic to other routes is clear the Tories choose to bury their heads in the sand. This is disastrous.”

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