I am pleased to update that following a recent visit by the Secretary of State for Transport, Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, the strategic importance of Portsmouth International Port was emphasised as a significant consideration by the government.
I wanted to reassure you that Portsmouth is prepared and we are ready if there is a no deal outcome as a result of Brexit negotiations.
We have been engaged in government discussions over the impact of a no deal on the country’s second busiest cross channel port.
This has included advising the government on simplified customs arrangements for import goods, which are essential for a port like Portsmouth because we use the efficient ro-ro (roll on roll off) method to keep goods moving.
Working with our customer Brittany Ferries and LRF colleagues, there are plans in place to minimise the impact of a no deal Brexit on the port. These will be shared once formally agreed.
In fact we are in a position to increase operations. Our location and capacity means we are well-placed to accommodate goods if there are difficulties at the short crossings in Kent. This is one of the reasons Le Havre sailings were increased earlier in the year and also why Portsmouth was chosen by the DfT for category one imports.
We have increased resources, so there will be more staff at the freight gates and our freight IT system has been upgraded in preparation. Additional customs agent staff have also been recruited so they are on site to assist hauliers with clearances.
We support calls to clear up uncertainties around future infrastructure and the need to invest in port health resources, but the port itself is organised to face changes post Brexit on goods entering the UK.
While politicians have been negotiating a deal, we have wasted no time planning with government departments, Brittany Ferries, French and Spanish ports, to minimise the impact of a potential a no deal.
Trader awareness is a critical issue for exports. Companies need to have all the correct paperwork and make sure their hauliers are booked onto sailings.
Our strong message for hauliers – don’t leave anything to chance.
The port’s close proximity to the major road network means we cannot afford to have delays at the freight gates.
Working with the LRF we have taken our responsibility seriously to manage the impact, that’s why additional checks need to happen away from the port, so any issues can be managed without causing problems for city centre traffic.
Channel Island trade will come straight through to the port, because goods are not subject to changes in export documentation, and we have always campaigned for awareness around the critical nature of Channel Island goods.
We are calling for appropriate funding to facilitate checkpoints and also an appreciation of our port operations, without either the council bears the financial responsibility, and there is increased pressure on LRF agencies without reasonable support.