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Ipswich Port could be 'realistic alternative to Dover' after Brexit

PUBLISHED: 13:20 17 January 2019

Ship heads under the Orwell Bridge, on her way to ABP's Port of Ipswich.  Picture: Stephen Waller/ABP Port of Ipswich

Ship heads under the Orwell Bridge, on her way to ABP's Port of Ipswich. Picture: Stephen Waller/ABP Port of Ipswich

© Stephen Waller

The Port of Ipswich could play a vital role in cutting long queues of lorries trying to get into Dover after Brexit.

From the left front: Matt Moss (F.D. Poundfield Products) and Julian Scott (Clarkson Port Services) are pictured with (from back left) John Dugmore (CEO, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce), Andy Constable (Head of Operations, ABP) and Rob Page, (Project Engineer, ABP), inside the new warehouse at ABPs Port of Ipswich. Picture: Stephen WallerFrom the left front: Matt Moss (F.D. Poundfield Products) and Julian Scott (Clarkson Port Services) are pictured with (from back left) John Dugmore (CEO, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce), Andy Constable (Head of Operations, ABP) and Rob Page, (Project Engineer, ABP), inside the new warehouse at ABPs Port of Ipswich. Picture: Stephen Waller

Associated British Ports (ABP), which operates the Port of Ipswich, has just announced it’s invested £250m across its 21 UK ports since the EU referendum, and that includes a £700,000 investment in Ipswich in the construction of a new, de-mountable warehouse to provide extra storage.

Situated at the head of the River Orwell and 12 miles from the open sea, the Port of Ipswich is within a short sailing time from the North Sea shipping lanes and is the UK’s leading export port for agricultural products. The major trunk roads A14 and A12 are both within easy reach and have connections to the M1 and M25, and the port has an active rail line at its West Bank.

At the moment, the Ipswich Port only handles around 3m tonnes of cargo each year, compared to Dover which handles 40m tonnes of trades goods annually.

But Dover lacks the available land to be able to expand in order to handle extra capacity after Brexit.

A live test carried out earlier this month of an emergency system to prevent congestion in Dover in the event of a no-deal Brexit had to use a disused airfield 20 miles away as a spill-over area for waiting trucks, because of the lack of available land around the port itself.

An ABP spokesman claims that its ports - including Ipswich - have “quite a lot of land around them, so if we needed to have more warehousing and extra customs checks, it can be done”.

He added: “ABP Ports, including Ipswich Port, are a realistic alternative to Dover. We can be agile and prepared for every eventuality, and we are continuing to invest in infrastructure that makes sure we offer our best to customers.”

While many companies have recently expressed reluctance to invest in infrastructure until after the outcome of Brexit is known, the ABP spokesman said that ABP is “not holding back the horses” when it comes to investment, and is keen to “keep Britain trading”.

The new warehouse in Ipswich, which provides extra storage space for ABP’s customers Clarksons Port Services, is portable, which means it can be moved to another location. “This is a new innovation which means we can be more flexible - a business might need storage closer to a certain terminal, and so the warehouse can be moved accordingly,” said the spokesperson.

As part of the order, the port acquired 170 stelcon slabs from concrete products supplier, Poundfield Products, based in Creeting St Peter - the largest order that Poundfield received in the region in 2018.

ABP operates ports in our region in King’s Lynn and Lowestoft as well as Ipswich.

Its East Anglian ports handle over 2 million tonnes of agribulks and 170,000 tonnes of timber, supporting 3,700 regional jobs.

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