I need a tight Fishguard to come over

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Welsh Affairs Committee. Oral evidence: Brexit and t rade: i mplications for Wales , HC Thursday 1 October Ordered by the House of Commons to be published on 1 October Watch the meeting. Questions 1. Examination of witnesses. Q70 Chair: Good morning and welcome to a meeting of the Welsh Affairs Committee in the House of Commons, continuing our inquiry into the impact of post-Brexit trade arrangements on Wales. We are delighted this morning to be ed by an eminent panel of people running the ports in Wales and people from the UK representative bodies.

We are also ed by the chief executive of Cardiff airport, which is obviously another important port of entry into Wales. Before getting fully into the questions, will each of the panellists introduce themselves briefly? Ian Davies, would you like to go first? Ian Davies: Good morning. My role within Stena Line, the ferry and ports organisation, is co-ordinating our readiness for Brexit.

Spencer Birns : Good morning. Thank you for having me. I am the interim chief executive officer at Cardiff international airport. As you pointed out, we are a ificant point of entry for air travel for Wales. Andrew Harston : Good morning. I am Andrew Harston. I am the regional director for Associated British Ports. Richard Ballantyne: Good morning. I also provide the secretariat for the Welsh Ports Group, which is a grouping of all the ports in Wales.

Q71 Chair: Thank you all very much. Just by way of context, would each of you, briefly and in general terms, give us a bit of colour around the importance of the Welsh ports and Cardiff airport as well—the role they play within the Welsh economy obviously, but also what UK ificance they have? Ian, would you like to go first again? We operate ports across north-west Europe, predominantly supporting our ferry business, which is a slightly separate business.

In Wales, we have two ports: Fishguard, to the south, which connects to Rosslare in the Republic of Ireland; and the much larger Holyhead port, in the north, on the Isle of Anglesey, where two ferry operators operate, Stena Line Ferries and Irish Ferries. We transport approximately , freight units on our northern corridor between the two ferry operators, and about 35, to the south. We transport about a million passengers through Holyhead port every year. As an employer, we employ approximately people in our ports and, likewise, we employ approximately staff on our ferries.

Then, on top of that, if you look at secondary supported employment, we probably have double that in our ports. There are probably around related jobs in the ports sector, right on the tip of west Wales and of north Wales. Q72 Chair: Thank you very much. Andrew Harston from ABP, could you also answer that question and just give us a sense of the role that the ports that you manage and run play within the Welsh and UK economy?

Andrew Harston : Thank you, Chair. We also operate an inland rail port at Hams Hall, in the west Midlands. We are committed to investing in our infrastructure and services to maximise the potential of our ports to drive trade and economic growth in Wales. As a result of that manufacturing, approximately 1 million tonnes of Tata finished product is shipped through Newport.

Newport, through south Wales, is the gateway to England for steel going in and out of the UK. Swansea remains an important regional port in the west. It is still the base for Trinity House and the lighthouse service, ship repair, and a of customers in the construction and steel sectors. The port of Barry is important because without Barry operational, Dow Silicones, a major employer in Barry, would close.

The import pipeline for its raw material comes directly through Barry, and the import and export of its containers globally go through the Barry intermodal terminal, which is situated within the port at Barry and operated by ABP. Cardiff, of course, remains the capital port, and I think that, very ificantly, we did see the effect in the early part of covid.

Virtually all the petrochemical and gasoline products used in the M4 corridor come through Cardiff. That is an important coastal service, with three large ships every week moving between Milford Haven and Cardiff on behalf of Valero. All that product is moved by sea, which means a requirement for tanker movements a day along the M4 and the A40 out to the west.

So Cardiff remains very important in terms of the south Wales consumer market, as well as steel and construction. We have direct employees, and as I have said, the multiplier effect for the ports, particularly with the importance of Tata, is in many respects vital to a large part of the south Wales economy. Q73 Chair: Mr Harston , thank you very much; that was very helpful.

Richard Ballantyne, you obviously speak for all Welsh ports in some contexts and those ports that perhaps are not represented on the panel. What additional information can you give us to help us to get a picture of the importance of Welsh ports to our economy? Richard Ballantyne: Following the excellent summary from my colleagues, I would say the overall picture in Wales is that ports provide around 11, jobs directly in Wales and facilitate nearly 50 million tonnes of freight through Welsh ports.

That is in your constituency, Chair, as you will of course know. There are quite a few other facts and figures, which we will be happy to supply to you afterwards. They might be a bit too in-depth to go into now. Spencer Birns , Cardiff airport is a bit of a different operation. Can you briefly give us a sense of where Cardiff airport sits within the Welsh economy, and perhaps a sense of the break down between passengers and freight? Obviously, we will talk a lot about freight in this session, but can you indicate how ificant freight is for Cardiff airport?

Spencer Birns : Thank you, Chair. Good morning, everyone. We have been operating Cardiff i nternational airport since We are a commercial passenger airport primarily. We facilitate freight activity, and also maintenance, repair and overhaul and other flying activities. We have direct employees, but we support over 2, jobs off the back of the airport. Last year we carried 1. We work with a mandate that is focused on economic value to Wales, but we are also a ificant gateway to the south-west as well as Wales.

We are able to track that in a meaningful way. In terms of freight, the most ificant freight that comes into or out of Cardiff airport at the moment is typically through Qatar Airways. They have the capacity for 11 tonnes of freight every day. We have opened our operational capabilities for freight at any time of the day, and we facilitate that. We have been shipping freight in from China and Cambodia directly. In terms of the split between freight and passenger activity, passengers are a much bigger part of our business, but now with the covid crisis ongoing, which looks to be for a long period, freight activity and the generation of freight activity post-Brexit is something we are particularly interested in.

We are naturally interested in free ports as well. Q75 Chair: Thank you. Before getting into the Brexit-related questions—lots of colleagues want to pile in with questions on that—can I ask about covid? Perhaps I can come to you first, Richard Ballantyne, and ask, in very general and broad terms, about the impact of covid on the ports sector.

In general terms, what has the economic shock done and how does it tie into the discussion around preparedness for Brexit, which we will get into in more detail? I am sure that when we come to look at Cardiff airport, that will be magnified and they will be able to explain the particular challenges there. There was a general slowdown of the economy. Obviously, with the lockdown and the shutdown with manufacturing and with certain shops, and with other activities slowing down, it impacted all areas of the port industry, including components for manufacturing and goods for non-essential shopping type arrangements, and of course even things like fish landings were impacted because we were not eating as many fish in our restaurants and so on.

So there has been an impact across the sector. Ports have been fairly resilient, fortunately. One or two have faced more difficult and challenging situations than others. There has been a handful of redundancies in certain areas of our sector. The other impact not to underestimate is that on the operational side of ports where staff who have been classified as key workers have needed to be kept on site with quarantine and self-isolation measures.

Also, in very important operational installations, people have had to modify workplaces to make sure that places are safe for staff and workers. Q76 Chair: Does the end of the furlough scheme mean that there will likely be more redundancies in the port sector across Wales? Richard Ballantyne: I would not like to say specifically across Wales, but I think it is fair to say that operators will have to look at the lasting impacts.

I would reiterate that we have not been hit in quite the same way as some of the passenger markets, apart from those ports that rely heavily on ferry and cruise activity and recreational activity as well. It is fair to say that ports will be reviewing their cost bases and having a look at what they do, but hopefully it will not be as dramatic as other sectors.

We did call for an extension of the furlough scheme, which was probably the most popular stimulus that the port sector found of use from Government. We appreciate what the Government has done and understand the predicament it is in, but any extension of those types of measures would be broadly very welcome d by our sector.

Indeed, the statement made by the Chancellor last week on how financial support may be continued in the employment sphere for the next six months is something we are watching closely. Chair: Okay. Thank you very much. I do not intend to bring in the other members of the panel on that specific question. I will now bring in Geraint Davies in Swansea. Q77 Geraint Davies: I simply want to ask how confident the ports are that we are ready to respond to the different trading arrangements with the EU at the end of the transition period.

I want to get a feel for how ready you are. Maybe we could start with Andrew from ABP.

I need a tight Fishguard to come over

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Shellfish industry under threat due to fishing restrictions