The announcement of the first direct ferry service between Ireland and Spain from the end of April poses numerous concerning questions about the future of Welsh ports after Brexit.
The service will allow freight transport between Ireland and the rest of the EU to entirely bypass Welsh ports. This highlights the preparations being made by Irish businesses for a hard Brexit.
Whilst the establishment of a new service is not explicitly linked to Brexit, the new route does give firms the opportunity to bypass Welsh ports in the event of a hard Brexit. Should we get a bad Brexit deal that leads to substantial customs delays at our ports, that opportunity will begin to look very attractive.
Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds commented:
“This is yet more evidence of the devastating impact Brexit could have on Welsh ports. These ports make a vital contribution to their local economies and the economy of Wales. Leaving the customs union could lead to lengthy delays at these ports, increased costs for companies and even rotting produce. It is essential the UK stays in the single market and customs union to protect our ports and the Welsh economy.”
Andrew Lye, Chair of Carmarthenshire & Pembrokeshire Liberal Democrats said:
"News that Ireland and Spain will be linked by a direct ferry service for the first time should set the alarm bells ringing. With Brexit negotiations continuing, Ireland is preparing for a hard border with the UK and who can blame them! But the creation of a direct route between Ireland and Spain rightly concerns us here in Pembrokeshire.
“The ports of Pembroke Dock and Fishguard are crucial to their communities and the economy of Pembrokeshire, just as Holyhead is crucial to Anglesey. A hard border after Brexit would have devastating consequences for these ports and the jobs, trade and tourism they support. No-one wants to see Pembrokeshire lose out, but the signs are worrying.”