New car handling facility on former Tioxide site will be ready to meet Brexit need

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 24 Oct 2018

WORK will start on the creation of new car handling facilities in Grimsby soon, as port operator ABP helps its clients gear up for whatever Brexit may bring.

The 110-acre former Tioxide site on the Humber Bank was bought last April, gaining planning permission to use it as storage for one of the town’s key trades with Europe a year ago. 

A first phase of the facility could handle 4,000 to 6,000 cars, should the major brands using the town look to increase volumes ahead of the UK leaving the EU.

German-based Volkswagen Group is the port’s main customer, bringing VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat models into the UK for distribution to dealerships nationwide. 

Ashley Curnow, pictured right, Grimsby port manager for ABP, said: “There are 86 acres of available car parking space, and we are in the process of looking to develop that site in the next few months in the run-up to Brexit. It could be a very difficult time for the automotive sector, so we are making sure we are in a position to manage it, should manufacturers need to stock higher numbers and increase volumes in quarter one. 

“We will have space within Grimsby to accommodate them, as the last thing we want is to have customers looking elsewhere.

“In the longer term we will be looking at long term contracts with major car manufacturers, but the first stage is to support customers with Brexit.” 

Tioxide stopped producing titanium dioxide in 2009, with the iconic chimney falling in 2015 as part of the major site clearance by town firm RPM Industrial Services Ltd. 

Potential issues looking to be avoided are flows into and out of the country, as well as any new tariff regime in the event of us coming out of the Customs Union. 

Stockpiling vehicles ahead of the date would ensure percentage additions on such high-value imports were avoided, should they be implemented when Brexit arrives. 

The port has welcomed car carriers for decades, with vessels laden with hundreds of vehicles arriving in Alexandra Dock.

Large swathes of land around the western side of the port are dedicated to car handling, predominantly imports, but exports for Derby-made Toyotas too.

The proposal, as submitted to North East Lincolnshire Council last year. 

In 2013, with Volkswagen Group as the anchor client, Grimsby River Terminal was opened outside of Royal Dock, future-proofing the port for the next generation of vessels, unrestricted by lock access, and significantly enhancing capacity. 

Now, five years on, there is potential to add to what was created, with a master plan for the entire port being looked at. 

“There is growth potential in the river terminal, which could involve infrastructure investment,” Mr Curnow said. “It is a possibility when the time would be right, and we are investigating that, but it would be a large project.

“The automotive sector is a huge part of the port, we have done a lot of work with customers and we are working to attract further customers.”

Grimsby River Terminal, pictured in 2013. Picture: David Lee Photography.

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