Four UK ferry companies have won government contracts to enhance the UK’s freight capacity ahead of the end of the transition period on 1 January 2021.
Brittany Ferries, DFDS, P&O Ferries and Stena Line won the £77.6m-valued deals, Sky News reports.
Medicine and critical goods
The government said the agreements will ensure that vital medical supplies and other critical goods “continue to be smoothly delivered into the UK whatever the outcome of negotiations with the EU”.
According to the Department of Transport, the agreements provide capacity equivalent to more than 3,000 HGVs per week.
The contracts will be in place for six months from the end of the transition period.
Potential border disruption
From the start of next year, the UK will no longer be trade with its neighbours as a member of the European single market and customs union.
As a result, firms will need to complete and comply with new customs procedures and documentation to continue sending and receiving goods from the continent.
New administrative requirements could lead to traffic jams of up to 7,000 lorries trying to take goods over the British border at ports such as Dover, according to the government’s own ‘worst case scenario’ forecast.
Spread the load
The contracts will focus on nine routes serving eight ports in areas less likely to experience disruption including Felixstowe, Harwich, Hull, Newhaven, Poole, Portsmouth, Teesport and Tilbury.
Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps said the measures were needed to ensure the smooth and successful flow of freight carrying critical goods.
“Securing these contracts ensures that irrespective of the outcome of the negotiations, life-saving medical supplies and other critical goods can continue to enter the UK from the moment we leave the EU,” he said.