Eurotunnel chief hits out at UK over no-deal transport contracts | Politics

The federal government has been accused of “anti-competitive” and “distortionary” behaviour by Eurotunnel, after awarding a collection of no-deal Brexit contracts to transport firms together with a startup that has but to run ferry providers.

Jacques Gounon, the chief government of Getlink, the cross-channel rail operator’s father or mother firm, advised the UK transport secretary, Chris Grayling, the contracts might have been illegally awarded.

“It’s with severe concern that we’ve got learn on this weekend’s press particulars of agreements between HMG [Her Majesty’s government] and sure ferry operators as much as £107m to offer further capability to be offered into the market even when a deal is reached,” he wrote.

“I need to deliver to your consideration the distortionary and anti-competitive results of such an motion, which might be a unilateral breach not solely of the concession settlement with Eurotunnel, however extra extensively of current competitors and state assist regulation.”

Gounon was talking after the controversy over a £14m contract awarded to Seaborne Freight, a startup firm, to revive a ferry service from Ramsgate in Kent to Ostend in Belgium.

The corporate didn’t have any ships on the time of the award and is within the means of chartering them.

He identified Eurotunnel supplied the quickest hyperlink to France and the corporate had already been engaged on contingency choices the federal government was conscious of, together with further freight trains and a terminal for unaccompanied trailers, however added that this wanted authorities assist.

Gounon mentioned the corporate was prepared and ready for the federal government to behave and “stays ready to ship further capability underneath equal contracts to these you could have signed with ferry operators”.

Eurotunnel was one of many first firms to warn the federal government of the potential threat Brexit posed to move in Kent. It’s deeply pissed off by what Eurotunnel described as the federal government’s lack of engagement.

A dredger at Ramsgate harbour

A dredger at Ramsgate harbour. {Photograph}: Sean Smith/Guardian

Grayling introduced on Christmas Eve that the federal government had awarded £103m to a few ferry firms to offer further cargo capability within the occasion that the Dover-Calais route turns into congested in a no-deal Brexit situation.

The most important contracts went to Brittany Ferries and the Danish cargo firm DFDS, with the third going to Seaborne Freight.

Grayling defended his division’s accelerated tender course of and mentioned he made no apologies for supporting a British startup.

However Grayling was additionally criticised by the chief of Calais port, who mentioned he was “very indignant” over the deal between the federal government and Seaborne Freight.

“I’m very shocked, I think about it disrespectful for Calais and Dover,” mentioned Jean-Marc Puissesseau.

Portsmouth port has expressed its frustration with the federal government over plans to make use of close by land for lorries, and mentioned a part of the M3 could also be closed to offer area for these autos within the worst-case situation.

Seaborne Freight’s chief government, a former Royal Navy submarine officer, has defended the federal government’s choice, saying the corporate is run by a group of skilled “previous canine” who will constitution, moderately than personal, cargo ships.

A councillor in Ramsgate warned the port is not going to be prepared for providers in April. It has not been used as a ferry terminal for some years and solely final Thursday did excavation of the seabed start, so ferries and huge cargo ships can begin working out of the harbour once more.

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