Overall total freight tonnage handled by UK ports declined by 3% in 2016, mainly due to a large reduction in demand for coal imports, according to a report from UK’s Department for Transport (DfT).
The ports handled a total of 484 million tonnes during 2016. The vast majority of this freight, 472.8 million tonnes, was through major ports.
The 3% reduction in the tonnage passing through UK major ports in 2016 was due mostly by the reduction in dry bulk tonnage. 2016 saw 11.5 million fewer tonnes of dry bulk goods passing through UK ports than in previous years, a fall of 11%. This was mostly due to the fall in coal and ores as major port coal tonnage handled fell 53% from 2015, to 12 million tonnes in 2016.
Bulk freight has declined over the past 10 years and fell by 5% overall in 2016, driven by a decline in dry bulk, mainly coal imports, linked to reduction in use of coal associated with the move to more sustainable means of energy generation.
Despite this, steady growth has been experienced in unitised traffic, which saw its fourth consecutive year of growth in 2016. 24.1 million units of traffic passed through UK ports in 2016, representing a rise of 2%.
Container traffic rose by 3% to 5.9 million units, or 10.2 million TEUs, reaching a record high, while roll on – roll off cargo rose by 1% to 18.2 million units passing through UK ports in 2016.
“The DfT’s figures highlight the significance of unitised traffic to the UK economy and particularly Roll-on Roll-off HGV vehicle trade with Europe. This underlines the importance of agreeing a post-Brexit deal with the EU that preserves as many of the advantages of Customs Union membership and avoids the need for border interventions, congestion and delays at Ro-Ro ports, whilst also enabling UK ports to take advantage of new global trade deals,” Richard Ballantyne, British Ports Association Chief Executive, said.