The emergency plans being drawn up to avoid no-deal Brexit chaos at Hull and Humber Ports

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 25 Jan 2019

A regional body charged with planning for major incidents says there might be a need to deploy emergency measures around the Humber ports in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The Department for Transport (DfT) is currently only looking at contingency arrangements in Kent to manage potential disruption at the Channel ports if border checks are re-introduced.

Plans to tackle post-Brexit traffic queues by holding lorries in a disused Kent airport were the subject of a trial run earlier this month, while a 20-mile section of motorway has reportedly been earmarked as a temporary lorry park if there are severe delays in Dover.

But senior figures at Humber Local Resilience Forum (HLRF) believe similar measures could be needed here, including so-called vehicle stacking on motorways.

A lorry heading for the Port of Dover in Kent passes the Brexit-inspired mural by artist Banksy. (Image: PA)

Together, the Humber ports manage 40 per cent more European Union freight in terms of tonnage than Dover.

Some freight firms are believed to be considering switching their operations from the Channel to the Humber to avoid potential congestion.

In addition, Immingham has been identified by the government as an emergency ferry port to bring in essential supplies including medicines in the event of a no-deal Brexit. 

The multi-agency HLRF, which includes representatives from local councils, police, fire services and the NHS, is understood to have identified several no-deal risks linked to the Humber ports.

They include potential disruption to fuel deliveries across the north of England from oil refineries on the South Bank and the vulnerability of the A63 through Hull because of congestion caused by its high rate of accidents and breakdowns.

Last week frustrated HLRF members wrote to transport secretary Chris Grayling calling on him to ensure his department provide them with clear information on a "worst case scenario" for the Humber.

The move follows months of waiting for a DfT response to requests asking to share details of modelling work on potential future freight traffic movements at the Humber ports.

Without that information and with time running out before the UK's scheduled exit from the EU at the end of March, Hull Live understands the HLRF has instead drawn up its own vehicle stacking plans.

Last week city council leader Councillor Steve Brady described the lack of information from the DfT as "woeful" when asked by his authority's preparation planning for a possible no-deal Brexit during a full council meeting.

In a statement, a DfT spokesman said: "The Department for Transport is carrying out targeted contingency planning, focusing efforts on areas that may present challenges in the event of no deal.

King George Dock in Hull where most European freight imports and exports are handled (Image: Pete Harbour)

"We expect the vast majority of our ports to experience no disruption.

"We regularly engage a wide range of companies and ports across the country and will continue to discuss how the government can support the development and growth of the maritime industry."

The spokesman said freight being carried through the Humber was less likely to be time-sensitive when compared with the often high-urgency freight coming through Dover.

The statement added: "We have carried out significant analysis and we do not consider there are the same risks at other ports, even with some redistribution of freight traffic from the Dover Strait, so have no plans to close any strategic roads outside Kent.

"DfT and Highways England will continue to engage with all relevant Local Resilience Forums on plans for a range of circumstances in a no-deal scenario."

No one from the HLRF was available for comment this week.

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