Holyhead, the UK’s second biggest ferry port ‘absolutely not’ ready for a no-deal Brexit

Holyhead is home to the UK’s second biggest roll-on roll-off ferry port in the UK and Gwynedd Shipping, who operate there, say they are “absolutely” not ready for a no deal Brexit.

Andrew Kinsella, Managing Director of the shipping company says the infrastructure they need to avoid a backlog of lorries on the A55 is not in place and it is “implausible” that it will be in time.

Stena Line, the company who manage the port in Holyhead claim they “have taken all prudent steps” to prepare for a no deal Brexit.

Welsh Government have also said in the event of a no-deal, there are likely to be delays at customs but contingency plans are in place to minimise disruption.

Boris Johnson has indicated he wants a deal largely in place by October 11, the day the agenda is set for the European summit on October 18 when the Prime Minister is hoping EU leaders will sign off on an agreement.

Michael Gove, the minister in charge of no-deal Brexit preparations today announced, “if the EU does not move this Government is prepared to leave without a deal on October 31.”

Gwynedd Shipping

Gwynedd Shipping operate at a port in Holyhead and one across the Irish sea in Dublin.

The company employs 150 people and moves about 100 trailers between Holyhead and Ireland everyday – making up about 50% of its business.

In order to deal with the predicted hold-ups in customs in the event of a no-deal, there will need to be space to hold the lorries at Holyhead port.

The Managing Director of the company, Mr Kinsella, says currently there is no such space that can accommodate the vehicles.

More than 600 lorries can be held at the port itself. There are also plans for free spaces at the nearby Road King service station and Parc Cybi.

If that is not enough, a lane on the westbound A55 between junction two and three will be used to stack lorries but Mr Kinsella says the fears of long queues on that stretch of road are “well founded” and not scaremongering.

Whilst Mr Kinsella says he does not think this will make Holyhead unviable, he does think customers may rethink their routes and chose a different port which is better equipped to cope.

I’m concerned for the future of the port, we employ 150 people across Wales, North West Wales, North East Wales, South East Wales.

I think the ports of Liverpool and Birkenhead will be better positioned to deal with any customs delays.



Howard Owen, Transport Manager at Holyhead, says uncertainty surrounding Brexit has been affecting their business this year.

He attributes Brexit as the main cause saying the situation has changed since a year or two ago.

I think all of our customers are afraid. They don’t know what’s coming. They don’t know how to deal with it so everyone’s just storing rather than sending goods out.



Gwynedd Shipping has called for more engagement with freight operators from the port run by Stena Line, the local council and called on the Welsh Government for leadership.

However Stena Line say they believe they have adequately prepared.

Their Director, Ian J Hampton, said in a statement that they “have taken all prudent steps to ensure that goods continue to flow as smooth as is practicable, in the event of ‘no-deal’.”

As a business we believe that we are as prepared as we can be given the backdrop of limited clarity of requirement that the new relationship between the UK and EU will bring, since exit negotiations still continue.

Stena Line Ports has been fully active in preparing for the scenario of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. We have engaged with the Welsh Government through the Local Resilience Forum that has linked us to the relevant local authorities.

In the coming days the UK Government will station an information team in the Port to further highlight requirements post 31st October in the event of a No-Deal, to further educate the customers of our Port. The Stena Line Group has also actively engaged the UK and Irish Governments to ensure the interests of our customers and our business are understood with respects to No-Deal planning and future requirements.




However in Dublin, preparations have been underway since 2018.

Millions of euros have been spent creating T7, which is a new customs and immigration centre in the Irish port.

Charlie Murphy from the Dublin Port Company says they are as ready as they will ever be for Brexit.

We’re as ready as we can be. This is a year’s long work – last year we started this and got it all prepared.

We worked with all the estate agencies who came together to make sure that we would be prepared and what we’re saying now is yes, we’re ready.


Charlie Murphy

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