Congestion crisis outgrows ports as container stacks pop up across the UK

The Elbstrom at Portsmouth


The container congestion crisis engulfing the UK has spread beyond the country’s ports and distribution centres into towns and villages. To say residents in the sleepy Suffolk village of Melton, located about 10 miles inland from Felixstowe, were surprised to see large numbers of container trucks turning up on a disused plot of land over the past week would be an understatement. Pictures and video taken by The Loadstar over the weekend show container stacks dominating the rural skyline – The Loadstar estimates hundreds of containers are being stored at the site.

Congestion crisis outgrows ports as container stacks pop up across the UK

The build-up of containers at the site comes amid reports that some 11,000 teu of containers containing PPE shipments are stuck in Felixstowe’s container yards.

One UK freight forwarder told The Loadstar the PPE shipments “can’t get into the National Health Service (NHS) supply network – it’s already full”. Meanwhile, the country’ major container gateways continue to struggle with empty containers causing congestion, and other UK ports are offering their services to shipping lines desperate to get empties back to Asia. Last week, Portsmouth terminal Portico welcomed the 974 teu BG Freight Line feeder vessel Elbstrom, which made an ad hoc call at the south coast port to collect a consignment of empty CMA CGM containers for transport to Rotterdam.

“The ongoing effect of the coronavirus pandemic, along with some British ports seeing container traffic 30% above normal levels has led to a glut of empty containers across the UK.

Combine this with importers looking to stock up ahead of Christmas, and you’ve got a major container headache,” the company said.

Portico operations director Steve Williams said: “We’re pleased we can do our bit to help solve this issue, which is causing disruption to supply chains across the globe and hampering the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.”