Majority of U.K. Ports Not Prepared for Brexit

January 25, 2019

Only 16 percent of U.K. ports and harbor authorities have made “significant or practical” plans for Brexit, according to a survey.

Leaders at almost every UK port and harbour authority – in total around 100 - were asked about their state of readiness by the Maritime & Shipping Practice at Odgers Berndtson, a leading executive search firm.

"Only 16% said they had made any “significant or practical” plans for Brexit. The remainder were equally split between ports doing “only some high-level planning” and nothing at all," revealed the survey.

The findings are significant as the Government hopes regional ports will reduce additional demands on busy ports in southern England.

“The ports industry is keen to seize on any opportunities arising from Brexit, but this is the first real indication of what’s actually happening outside ports like Dover,” said Paul Butterworth, head of the Maritime & Shipping Practice at Odgers Berndtson.

Although most (over 80%) UK ports have done little or no planning for Brexit, over half (59%) expect a negative or strongly negative impact, the survey said.

Despite the lack of preparation, only 25% of UK port leaders think they are currently in a position to handle Brexit well. A third believe they could cope, but ideally with further investment, whilst over 40% either don’t know or doubt their ability to handle additional demands, it said.

“Finding senior people with the right combination of talents to develop UK ports strategically is already hard, and Brexit has made it much harder,” Butterworth said. “People are unwilling to take the risk and relocate with so much uncertainty.”

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