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Bristol Port hopes to profit from a Brexit boost

Sky News logo Sky News 12/02/2019 Dan Whitehead, Sky News correspondent

Bristol Port covers nearly 2,500 acres in total © Sky News Screen Grab Bristol Port covers nearly 2,500 acres in total Bristol Port says it has put aside land to help other major UK ports in the event of disruption caused by a no-deal Brexit.

The port - stretching for miles between the Bristol Channel and the M5 - covers nearly 2,500 acres - 800 acres assigned to so-called Temporary Storage Areas - some of which it says can be made available.

With the Brexit deadline looming, there is concern among ports about what impact a no deal could have EU trade imports and exports.

Bristol Port CEO David Brown believes they are prepared and stand ready to help others should there be a Brexit backlog of freight.

"All ports are hugely competitive and we pride ourselves on running an efficient service," he said.

"Therefore we believe there is potential for temporary storage areas and the way we handle cars efficiently into the port and out to the networks mean that we are well positioned to compensate should other ports have issues bringing cargo in or out."

a large red truck driving down a street: Most of the imports into Bristol port come from outside the EU © Sky News Screen Grab Most of the imports into Bristol port come from outside the EU

Bristol Port says the fact 65% of its imports already come from outside the EU - the majority under World Trade Organisation rules - means it does not expect any problems if there is a no-deal Brexit.

But the threat of freight disruption, especially on occupied freight (lorries with a driver travelling with the cargo), is real.

Last month the government ran operation Brock - an exercise which tested Manston Airport in Kent as a holding area for lorries.

Tim Morris from the UK Major Ports Group says ports across the country are working to ensure trade from Europe continues to flow.

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Mr Morris said: "We can't be complacent about this as there's a great deal of detail that's involved in these processes but one of the jobs at ports all around the UK including the port of Bristol that they've been doing, been working very hard with their customers and potential customers to ensure that the systems they have in place right now for non EU trade can be applied to EU trade, so there is a great deal of work going on with that and its been a real focus of a lot of the efforts of ports."

On any given day imports into Bristol are varied.

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On Monday we saw more than 1,000 Vauxhall and Mercedes cars being unloaded from a ship that had arrived that morning from Spain.

At the same time in the next berth, 60,000 tonnes of animal feed was being lifted onto the port side from a boat from Louisiana, USA.

Bristol Port's offer of help is of course essentially about boosting business.

It, like many other ports, is eyeing potential contracts from rivals that Brexit could make available.

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