Ireland is increasing its direct freight shipments to and from mainland Europe. Irish companies are trying anything to bypass potential skirmishes at UK ports after Brexit. Many companies ship goods between Ireland and mainland Europe via Great Britain, with around 150,000 trucks passing each year through what is known as the British ‘land bridge’.
But the end of the transition period in the United Kingdom on December 31, truckers now face new checks when they leave EU territory to enter Britain from Ireland or France. This has raised concerns about paperwork at the ports and potential chaos on the busy Dover-Calais route.
These risks were highlighted shortly before Christmas when France closed the Dover-Calais crossing due to concerns over a new strain of the highly transmissible coronavirus, causing huge delays in which hundreds of Irish truckers found themselves stranded in Britain.
Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin said the disruption underscored the need for ‘alternative routes’ to the land bridge even with a Brexit deal in place. Delays at Dover have resulted in increased demand for these services, leading ferry operator Stena Line to double capacity before Christmas on its direct freight route between Rosslare in south-eastern Ireland and the French port of Cherbourg.
Although sailing times are longer on direct sea crossings to the continent, concerns over Brexit had already prompted many Irish exporters and importers to use increased capacity on these routes.
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