A number of Fisheries Industry representatives met together with Transport interests and the Scottish Government on 3 August to discuss what can be done to help tackle the current uncertainty that prevails around the Channel Tunnel/ French Ferry dispute.
It was agreed that the top priority needed to be to restore satisfactory passage through the Tunnel. The Scottish Government, both at Ministerial and official level have made representations, and continue to make representations to the UK Government, seeking prioritisation for fresh and perishable products given the importance of the Fish/Shellfish Sector to the Scottish and UK economy. This appears to be the preferred option for most businesses that utilise the Boulogne Hub.
While pressure is being maintained on the UK Government to find a remedy, it was agreed that given the uncertainty as to whether there will be an early resolution of the disruption to business; urgent contingency work should be done on identifying alternative solutions.
Fresh thinking along these lines would stand the sector in good stead.
As a first step it was agreed that clarity was needed as to the sector’s practical requirements. The following have been suggested as the key points which any alternative solution must meet:
In order to understand whether this option is viable there is a need to get some indication of the traffic which uses the Channel Tunnel /Dover Calais corridor. Specifically we need an understanding as to the tonnage throughput levels and whether companies would be willing to utilise an alternative mechanism that could offer the possibility of getting to the Boulogne Hub in time to meet the industry’s needs to meet their European customers.
Specifically – in order to give focus to our next discussions with transport interests on Thursday (6 August), we would be grateful to know whether, in the context of continuing Tunnel disruption, if there were alternative arrangements which met the points above you would use them and if so what volumes/value in broad terms you would wish to send. If not what changes to the criteria above would change your mind?
Many thanks for your assistance on this.