The UK Major Ports Group (UKMPG) has said that the UK can reduce the risks of delays and congestion after the Brexit transition period if freight flows diversify their points of entry.

A report commissioned by UKMPG and carried out independently by UK transport expert MDS Transmodal found that UK ports outside the so-called Shorts Straits of the English Channel offer significant additional capacity for handling EU-UK freight flows.

The ports already have the capacity needed to immediately provide greater resilience for supply chains in 2021 and beyond, said UKMPG. This additional capacity is equivalent to around 60 percent of the total volume of 2018 UK-EU trade flows.

UKMPG added that it supports efforts to secure an EU trade deal, but regardless of whether a deal is reached, arrangements for handling goods and services moving to and from the EU and the UK will change.

Tim Morris, ceo of UKMPG, said: “There are ports all around our coast able and willing to bolster the UK’s trading capacity. Realising this additional resilience capacity will deliver crucial benefits to the UK in keeping trade flowing…”

“We urge cargo owners to intensify their preparations for the new border checks and systems that are coming and carefully review their supply chain options, whilst government must provide adequate border infrastructure and maintain a level playing field for ports across the UK,” Morris said. 

This shift to other UK gateways could also bring economic and environmental benefits. A switch of traffic to a wider network of ports closer to the end customers could reduce road miles, and hence emissions. Moreover, the broader spread of traffic flows could support more jobs in the port and logistics sector – helping to spread economic activity across the UK.