Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland port traffic rises to 26.6 million tonnes a year

By John Mulgrew

Northern Ireland's ports have seen a 5% rise in the volume of goods passing through in the last year - up to 26.6 million tonnes.

Belfast Harbour dealt with the bulk of all sea trade here, with two-thirds of the total. Warrenpoint made up 12%, followed by 10% through the Port of Larne.

Meanwhile, Foyle Port deal with 7% of all tonnage throughout Northern Ireland.

Total freight traffic through UK ports in 2016 was 484 million tonnes, compared to 496.7 million the previous year.

A total of 458,664 non-freight vehicles passed through Northern Ireland ports in 2016. And of that, Belfast accounted for 70% of traffic.

That was a small decrease of 0.2%, compared with a figure of 459,601 in 2015. The latest figures from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) show that 66.8% of outward traffic came through Belfast Port, with 15.8% through Warrenpoint and 12.9% through Larne.

In its latest report, Belfast Harbour saw pre-tax profits rise by 7% to £35.8m, but has said Brexit will see the "greatest change" to trading relationships in more than 40 years.

The port and property developer, which handles more than two-thirds of Northern Ireland's sea trade, also saw turnover rise - up by 7% to £58.1m for the year ending December 2016.

In its annual report, the harbour said growth was led by greater levels of trade through the port as well a boost in property income.

More than 23 million tonnes passed through the harbour in 2016. That was up around 1%. Ferry passenger numbers grew strongly in 2016, up 9% to 1.5m - the highest level since 2004.

Meanwhile, Foyle Port has enjoyed the most successful period in its 162-year history.

It saw profits rising by around 50%, with turnover sitting at £8.6m. It's now in its fifth year of consecutive growth.

Chairperson Bonnie Anley told the Belfast Telegraph the impact of Brexit could cause delays to trade here, and that businesses need to be given a clear message as to what leaving the EU will mean for Northern Ireland and cross-border trade.

Belfast Telegraph

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