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Mega-ports failing global supply chain, says Peel Ports

Mega-ports failing global supply chain, says Peel Ports
Congestion, cost increases and environmental damage are among the negative impacts of the mega gateway port trend, according to Peel Ports commercial director Patrick Walters.

“Port selection needs to be based on proximity to market. Loading or discharging cargo at ports which are remote from the initial origin or ultimate destination of cargo is costly, inefficient, risky and environmentally damaging," claimed Walters

“The model of mega-ports serving as gateways to extensive and increasingly remote hinterlands has to be questioned. Mega-feeders linking mega ports do not alleviate congestion in the mega-hubs."

Peel Ports' interests are mostly clustered around the Irish Sea, serving the North of England, Northern Ireland, Ireland and Scotland, with another location at Sheerness in the South East of England. For the UK port group, discouraging the practice of hauling cargo by road and rail from the UK's largest ports on the East coast, closer to London, is of clear benefit.

“Direct calls at regional ports, close to import and export centres, with transhipment occurring at transhipment ports, provide real solutions for tackling congestion and increasing opportunities for the efficient transfer of goods. Delivering ocean freight closer to destinations cuts the cost of inland transportation and removes the delay associated with the current pattern of remote shipments.

“But taking advantage of these opportunities means a shift in the current mindset of supply chains and services, who are stubbornly rooted to a small selection of mega gateway ports. Shippers and end users need to take more of a role in lobbying lines to include calls at regional ports.”

Peel Ports' Liverpool2 project is due to start operations at the end of this year. The GBP300m ($445.6m) project will expand the port's capability from handling ships of a maximum 4,000 teu to targeting 10-13,500 teu vessels, with a design capable of handling mega-boxships of 20,000 teu.

The development, coupled with its waterway access to Port Salford, is being positioned as the UK's "green logistics hub" as it hopes to remove carbon-intensive road and rail journeys for cargo destined for the North from Felixstowe, London Gateway or Southampton.