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UK Sets Aside Another $36M for Seaports' Brexit Preparations

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Ro/pax ferries at the port of Holyhead, Wales, which handles truck cargo to and from Ireland (file image)

By The Maritime Executive 2019-08-30 23:39:12

After a lukewarm response from port operators about government funding for Brexit customs preparations, the UK Department for Transport (DfT) has announced that it is expanding its investment by another $36 million. The funds are intended to help keep cargo moving smoothly if Britain exits the EU without a trade deal on October 31. 

According to the DfT, the funds will be spent on upgrades to port infrastructure, road and rail links and on building "resilience" within local government. $12 million is up for port authorities to bid on under a new Port Infrastructure Resilience and Connectivity (PIRC) program; $6 million will go directly to local government agencies; and another $18 million will go towards "longer-term projects to boost road and rail links to ports."

"As the UK continues to develop as an outward-facing global trading nation ready for a post-Brexit world, the resilience of our trading hubs is more critical than ever before," Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said in a statement. "This £30 million investment supports our ports in their work to boost capacity and efficiency, ensuring they’re ready for Brexit and a successful future."

In response, the British Ports Association said that it welcomed the funding, but it reiterated its view that a political deal between the UK and the EU is the best way to avoid disruptions at the border.

"A ‘no deal’ would certainly appear to be more of a possibility now and it is prudent to plan for this potential outcome," said British Ports Association chief executive Richard Ballantyne. "While we are not a political organisation we remain firmly of the view that a deal that supports frictionless, free-flowing frontiers is the best outcome and as far as we are aware this is still the Government’s aim. We still hope that the UK and EU can come to a sensible arrangement ahead of the deadline.”