Total freight traffic for all ports in the U.K. in 2012 decreased 4 percent year-over-year to 501.2 million metric tons, according to the United Kingdom’s Department for Transport.
Despite slight growth in 2010 and 2011, tonnage through U.K. ports has fallen by 10 percent over the last decade and is now at a level similar to that seen 20 years ago.
Inbound U.K. port traffic, which accounted for 64 percent of total tonnage at U.K. ports, declined to 319.8 million metric tons in 2012, down 2 percent compared with 2011. Although inbound traffic dropped less than 1 percent over the last 10 years and is continuing to decline, in 2012 it remained 5 percent above the lowest level ever recorded, which was seen in 2009. Outbound U.K. port traffic in 2012 declined for the second year in a row, falling 5 percent year-over-year to the lowest level on record at 181.4 million metric tons. Levels have fallen by 24 percent over the last decade.
Ports in England accounted for 69 percent of the total freight handled by U.K. ports in 2012, moving 346.8 million metric tons, sliding 2 percent year-over-year and 4 percent over the last decade. Scotland, which handled 15 percent of total tonnage through U.K. ports, moved 76.1 million metric tons, decreasing 2 percent compared with 2011 and plummeting 38 percent since 2002. Welsh ports contributed 11 percent of the total tonnage, handling 54.6 million metric tons in 2012, a 17 percent drop from 65.5 million metric tons. Northern Ireland was the only U.K. country to see a year-over-year increase in 2012, rising modestly from 23.2 million metric tons in 2011 to 23.5 million metric tons in 2012.
The Top 3 busiest ports in the U.K. in 2012 were Grimsby & Immingham, London and Milford Haven, which moved 60.1 million metric tons, 43.7 million metric tons and 39.8 million metric tons respectively.
In 2012, liquid bulk accounted for 43 percent of all freight traffic through U.K. ports, followed by dry bulk at 23 percent; roll-on, roll-off traffic at 19 percent; container cargo at 11 percent; and general cargo with 4 percent.