Strong regional ports to be a gamechanger for the future of the UK’s supply chain

As the UK logistics industry continues to face pressure from the ongoing disruption across the supply chain, it is well reported that the entire industry faces many challenges as a result of global port congestion, HGV driver shortages, Brexit and COVID.

Peel Ports Group, the second largest port group in the country, views less reliance on congested southern ports as the key to enabling a resilient future for the UK’s supply chain.

David Huck, Managing Director, Group Ports says:

Congestion in southern ports has long been an issue and there has traditionally been a huge reliance on the south to facilitate the UK’s supply chain. Currently 95% of goods enter the country via the south, yet 60% is actually destined for the north

We have long argued the UK is too reliant on the South-East and the current climate calls for a serious rethink on the future of alternative regional ports being used as points of entry and exit.

Having invested circa £1.2 billion worth of infrastructure into it’s ports across UK and Ireland, Peel Ports has prepared rigorously for many years to ensure it has the resiliency and capacity to accommodate increased demand. Investments include a £450 million, west coast facing deep-water container terminal at Liverpool2, Brexit contingencies for HGV trailers, new rail connections to major UK city hubs and a heavy recruitment campaign to increase labour.

Mr Huck continues

We view investment as being the key to resiliency, we need to be able to move quickly in disruptive times. We invest and adapt and our strategic drive focuses on ‘sustainability’ to provide secure and stable operations for the future of our business, to the benefit of our customers

Peel Ports also considers location as a key factor for the smooth continuation of the supply chain. The combination of challenges posed by Brexit and Covid-19 continues to expose vulnerabilities and this has resulted in many cargo owners and carriers re-assessing their transport plans and choosing different ports, different shipping methods and switching transport modes to future proof supply chains.

Mr Huck gave further indication “Using the Port of Liverpool as an example, it is uniquely positioned to offer proximity to market for many major distribution hubs across the UK, providing shorter onward road journeys with less reliance on increasingly scarce truck drivers, addressing cost, carbon and congestion

The recent expansion of Liverpool2’s deep water container terminal and the introduction of three new train services to further enhance connectivity has ensured that the UK has an alternative major port location to alleviate southern congestion issues

As a proof point to this statement, following a successful trial earlier this year, DKT Allseas announced that it’s China Xpress liner service will become a permanent route into Liverpool, complimented with the introduction of a brand new onward rail service into Freightliners Birmingham terminal. The announcement of this new service is indicative of this shift and the growing demand for alternative points of entry. Across it’s wider group, Peel Ports see’s duplicate trends in locations such as Glasgow and London Medway.

As the world continues to navigate it’s way through continued disruption the message from Peel Ports is clear, as Mr Huck says;

The ongoing provision of critical goods and the smooth continuation of the supply chain is vital and strong regional ports will truly enable the countries resilience. It is now about considering how other port locations can benefit the logistics industry and how the North in particular can really help with solving some of the challenges it is presented with. Moreover, by building better stronger connections to our ports and creating more jobs, investment and infrastructure, there is an opportunity to support the much needed levelling up agenda that Northern conurbations vitally need