Dublin Port sets new container charges to make space for Brexit

State’s busiest port reduces ‘dwell time’ for freight to free up capacity ahead of UK exit

Dublin Port is halving the time it will allow shipping containers to be held for free and doubling charges for subsequent storage in order to increase space for Brexit.

The State’s busiest port, accounting for the vast majority of freight coming in and out of the country, is to decrease the “dwell time” for container storage and increasing the daily charges to free up capacity.

New customs checks and veterinary inspection posts set up to cope with UK imports after Brexit have taken up eight hectares of land at the growing port that it would otherwise expand into it for commercial and development opportunities. As a result, the port is looking to maximise use of existing space at the port.

The new charges and restrictions will apply from June 1st to one of three container terminals at the port, the terminal operated by Doyle Shipping Group that is owned and controlled by Dublin Port Company.


“The motivation is very simple: the faster the cargo moves through the port, the more capacity the port has,” said the port’s chief executive Eamonn O’Reilly.

“The immediate timing is actually driven by Brexit because we have just lost about a quarter of the land available to expand into because of Brexit.”

Britain's departure from the EU could lead to restrictions on the UK "land bridge" transit route for imports and exports between Ireland and mainland Europe and increased traffic on direct container routes.

The Doyle group terminal accounts for 45 per cent of containers and trailers moving between Dublin and mainland Europe and has seen increased growth on direct routes ahead of Brexit, the port said.


Mr O’Reilly said preparations for the UK’s exit from the EU were affecting all planning and developments at the port given the importance of the smooth throughput of trade after Brexit.

“Everything is obviously looked at now through the lens of Brexit,” he said.

The company could not direct commercial decisions taken by Irish Continental Group and Peel Ports, which operate the other two container terminals, but he hoped they would also maximise space, he said.

“We can’t influence what they do in their leased areas so we are calling on them publicly to start using the port land more efficiently,” he said.

The port released new figures showing that overall cargo volumes rose by 7 per cent in the first three months of the year.

"We've got to get more through the footprint because the footprint isn't going to get any bigger," said Mr O'Reilly of the port's 760-acre site, which is about a third of the size of Dublin's Phoenix Park.

He said he believed the port had enough capacity to cope with increased delays and traffic hold-ups as a result of the additional Border checks and inspections on freight to and from the UK after Brexit.

“We have enough capacity but what I don’t want to do is to wait another couple of years with the sort of growth that we have and then start to introduce these measures at that point when we are creaking,” he said. “We have got to get the cargo moving more quickly.”

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is The Irish Times’s Public Affairs Editor and former Washington correspondent