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Guidance on the port of Holyhead for the end of the EU transition period on 1 January 2021.

First published:
11 December 2020
Last updated:

Why do we need to put contingency plans in place at the port of Holyhead?

On January 1 the EU transition period ends. This means the UK can no longer trade with the EU on the same terms. Different paperwork will be required for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and there may be additional checks which could lead to delays for hauliers. HGVs will need somewhere to wait while they sort out the correct paperwork before travelling to Ireland.

The reasonable worst case planning assumptions published by UK government highlight that between 40% to 70% of HGVs may not have the correct paperwork and will be unable to enter the port. We must ensure there are sites where HGVs can be parked safely while they resolve this. Not having contingency plans would result in disruption as HGVs turned away from the port would not have a clear destination and could park in lay-bys and in the town.

Over time it is expected the issue with paperwork will improve but there remains a limited risk that delays in Dublin due to additional checks could impact on ferry times. This means stacking spaces might be required in Holyhead while HGVs wait for delayed ferries.

What are the plans for the port of Holyhead for the end of the EU transition period on 1 January 2021?

A temporary contraflow is to be put in place between Junction 2 to 4 of the A55 eastbound with the westbound carriageway reserved for the filtering and possible stacking of HGVs turned away from the port. This will be in place on 28 December ready to be used from 1 January. All vehicles turned away from the port with incorrect paperwork will be redirected back to the contraflow and then to join the westbound carriageway at Jct 4. Vehicles with the correct documentation will be able to travel straight to the port and check in as normal. In the event that there is no more space at the port, due to weather delays for example, border ready vehicles will be directed to the westbound carriageway.

We are currently negotiating to use the Roadking site near the port and work has begun on Plot 9 Parc Cybi to allow it to be used as a stacking site from mid-January. If there is space on these sites HGVs will be directed from the westbound carriageway to these sites. Stacking on the A55 will be done only when there is no other space on any other site. We will review these plans regularly.

Do we still need these if the UK government reaches a deal with the EU?

Yes. The transition period will end and, whether or not a trade deal is agreed, there will be changes to border arrangements. Customs processes will still be introduced from 1 January and operators may require related information as part of ferry bookings. We need to plan for possible disruption when these new arrangements begin.

What safeguards have been put in place to make the arrangements covid secure?

The arrangements have been made with safeguards to protect against covid-19. If the A55 contraflow is used for stacking, welfare and hygiene facilities will be made available for drivers. Drivers will be asked to remain within their vehicles as much as possible while they wait to access the port.

How will this affect people living and working in Holyhead?

The aim of this plan is to ensure there is minimum impact on people living and working in Holyhead, as well as providing facilities for HGVs and drivers. We would urge people to check traffic reports to have the latest information.

Will we still be able to travel to and from Holyhead?

Yes, although some disruption may occur, particularly during January. Plans will be monitored and adjusted to minimise that disruption.

How long will these arrangements be in place for?

It is difficult to give an exact date for when the arrangements will end, but whilst the plans account for a worst case scenario of up to 6 months, we will remove the temporary contraflow on the A55 once it is no longer required and safe to be removed. We expect the situation to improve as time goes on and hauliers and exporters become accustomed to the new arrangements and we expect most delays to take place in January, peaking towards the middle of the month. We will be monitoring the situation carefully and providing updates.

Why is the Welsh Government making these arrangements?

Holyhead is the second busiest roll on /roll off port in the UK, with Dover being the busiest. The Welsh Government is responsible for the trunk road network, and we must ensure that plans are in place to deal with any potential disruption at this major port. We want to ensure access to the port of Holyhead remains as easy as possible. We want to minimise disruption for the communities of Anglesey and the travelling public and if we were not implementing these plans it is very likely there would be severe disruption. We have worked with partners on these plans including Anglesey Council and the port.

How will the hauliers know where to go?

The best preparation hauliers can do for travelling via Holyhead at the end of the transition period is making sure they have been given the right paperwork before starting a journey, and that the ferry operators have been provided with all the information they require.

Hauliers who are ready should head directly to the port to check in as normal.

We will be sharing our plans with the ferry companies and hauliers associations so they are able to pass the information on to hauliers if they have to be turned away. There will also be signage in place and an information centre is already operational at Roadking. The plans and routes will also be promoted by Traffic Wales.

What about car and foot passengers, what arrangements are being made for them?

Extra checks at the border with the EU will apply to goods, which is why HGVs are affected. Car and foot passengers will not be affected and, in the event that ferries are delayed, the port has informed us there will be sufficient space to accommodate passenger vehicles. However, passengers should check the latest advice on travelling to/from Ireland to make sure they are ready for their journey.

How will we know if there is some disruption at the port?

We would advise you check traffic reports before travelling. Traffic Wales will have the latest information @TrafficWalesN  

Information on EU Exit