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Statement on Port Congestion Issues

Most UK ports are busy but operating normally.

Responding to the recent attention on container port issues the British Ports Association, the national body for ports, harbours and marine terminals, which represents gateways that facilitate 86% of our maritime trade, issued the following statement.

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Whilst some are extremely busy, the overwhelming majority of UK ports are currently operating normally. We have a variety of port gateways around the UK and they are continuing to keep the country supplied.

Container ports around the world are dealing with backlogs in containers, originally stemming from the post COVID-19 lockdowns when we saw surges in activities and pressures on cargo storage. Getting empty containers back to Asia and other locations has been challenging but the shipping industry is doing its best to meet global demands. This has been a real issue in North America and continental Europe.

A particular issue UK ports are also experiencing surrounds the much publicised lack of haulage. This has meant that some freight is not being collected as rapidly as it would normally. The situation is impacting all types of ports, not just container terminals. It has resulted in some further delays for a range of ports and terminal operations are working with their customers to get these goods out of their ports to avoid further congestion. Also this is a peak period in the freight calendar as the pre-Christmas order books create an additional surge in the demand for the ever import hungry British economy.

The maritime sector is vital to the UK economy and the ports and shipping industry are working closely to keep Britain open for business. Containerised trade carries manufactured products, consumer goods and other smaller supplies around the globe. Containers account for approximately 15% of UK port tonnage.

Richard Ballantyne, Chief Executive, British Ports Association