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  1. ITV Report

Disruption warning for Welsh ports post-Brexit

Credit: PA

A National Assembly Committee has warned that lengthy delays, tailbacks and disruption to freight supply chains could become the norm without proper planning in Welsh ports following Britain's exit from the European Union.

The report from the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee says that many Welsh ports currently lack the infrastructure and physical capacity to accommodate new border controls and custom checks.

The committee has also criticised Economy Secretary Ken Skates for being slow to seek meetings with European counterparts on the issue.

Welsh ports directly support 18,400 jobs, and many more besides. At the moment, Holyhead and Fishguard both work on the premise of seamless travel from one side of the Irish Sea to the other for goods and people. We learned that many Welsh ports lack the physical capacity to accommodate new customs and border checks, which could have an unwelcome effect including increased delays and congestion. We also know that there are fears in the industry that a future soft border in Northern Ireland, whilst a harder border exists across the Irish Sea, could pose a risk to Welsh ports as traffic may re-route to ports in England and Scotland. This would have a serious economic impact in Wales, and it is vital that the Welsh Government works with the UK Government to ensure that our ports and our industries aren't unfairly disadvantaged by Brexit.

– David Rees AM, Chair of the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee

The Welsh Government says that in their White Paper, Securing Wales' Future they have set out their priorities for Brexit which includes avoiding disruption to trade.

In our White Paper, Securing Wales' Future, we set out clearly our priorities for Brexit - including the critical importance of avoiding disruption to our trade. We also stressed that any changes to migration and/or customs rules would have an immediate and major impact at Welsh ports. As the Economy Secretary made clear in his evidence to the Committee, Tariffs, the wider fiscal regime and customs arrangements are reserved matters for HMRC.

We have been calling on the UK Government to ensure that - if they continue to insist on an approach to Brexit which would take the UK out of both the Single Market and the Customs Union - customs arrangements, which are the ports sector's key concern, are proportionate to support so-called 'frictionless' trade and do not in any way disadvantage Welsh ports.

– Welsh Government spokesperson