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Local company highlights consequences of new shipping regulations

large containter ship

New worldwide shipping regulations may have an impact on local businesses and road traffic congestion in the Horsham and Crawley areas.

From 1st July this year all exporters are required to provide a signed declaration, most usually through their freight forwarder, to the shipping line stating the gross mass of a laden container. Until now, only a mean average needed to be provided by law.

The main result of this change by the International Maritime Association (IMO) is that freight forwarders may need to weigh both the container itself and the load, requiring the use of cranes, weighbridges or certified weighing equipment.

Providing a gross mass may require a journey to the local weighbridge station in Crawley. As an increased number of lorries with heavy loads put a strain on the road networks, it could cause queuing and delays. Increased fuel emissions from vehicles may also have an impact on local air quality.

Gordon Humphrey, Managing Director at Seaspace International, shares the concerns of many in the shipping industry: “The IMO haven’t considered the overall practical implications of such a rigorous change, with no unified global, or even national, agreement in place for its application”.

The situation is currently impractical for shippers and freight forwarders with unknown associated costs. A belated plan is being developed to provide weighing facilities on the quay, but this could have untold consequences on container close-out timings and vessel loading schedules.

In a scheme which has been called ‘rudderless’, companies like Seascape International and their clients could be penalised by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) for not adhering correctly to the legislation. The alternative to travelling to weighbridges would be for forwarders to become “Verified Weighers”, however the MCA have yet to provide a standard application.

Gordon states: “The practical response to the regulations has been delayed and ultimately chaotic. With just a few short months to go, I receive frequent enquiries about the changes but can’t provide all the answers as questions remain unanswered from the regulators themselves.”

The nearest weighbridge to Crawley can add up to 30 miles per round trip for a container, which leaves Seaspace International with additional fuel costs and a question mark over how well the roads will hold up against extra use.

In the coming months, it is essential the regulatory body strives for clarity and works with shippers and freight forwarders to increase their options for complying with the new regulations. The full impact remains to be seen but it’s clear it goes further than the IMO envisioned.

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