Ken Skates MS, Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales
According to Department for Transport data the flow of freight traffic using the routes between Wales and Ireland continues to be far lower than before the end of transition, despite UK Government statements to the contrary.
Volumes at Holyhead port have declined by around 50% compared to last year, and volumes at Fishguard and Pembroke dock are around 40% down. Much of this traffic has been diverted away from Welsh ports to direct routes between Ireland-EU and Northern Ireland-GB.
Whilst this can be partially attributed to Covid-19 impacts, traders, hauliers and the ports have reported that it is now more costly, time-consuming and higher risk to navigate the new processes required to cross the border between Wales and Ireland. These are not simply teething problems, but core issues with the new rules and processes that have been established since.
Many of these factors are an inevitable consequence of the trade deal sought by the UK Government, over which Welsh Government has little control. However, we recognise the essential contribution that our ferry ports and services make to the economic prosperity of Wales and the wider UK and cannot sit idly by whilst the livelihood of all of those connected to the ports are placed under threat.
That is why we have been working closely with stakeholders to develop plans and positive actions that can be taken to address this decline.
We are today publishing a 5 point plan to support Wales-Ireland Logistics and address the disproportionate impacts we are now seeing on trade using the Welsh ferry ports. We are calling on our partners in the UK Government and the Irish Government to work with us on the concrete actions that have been identified in order for us to resolve this situation for the mutual benefit of all of our nations.
We will keep the plan under constant review and continue to work closely with stakeholders as further potential solutions emerge. We will also consult further with industry and operators as necessary, should problems persist further into the year.