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Counterbalancing peripherality and concentration: an analysis of the UK container port system

Wilmsmeier, Gordon; Monios, Jason


Gordon Wilmsmeier

Jason Monios


Over the last four decades, the UK container port system experienced a shift to and concentration in the southeast of the country, close to the English Channel. At the same time, traditional ports in the north and centre of the country have lost importance, despite overall container traffic growth. This paper analyses the evolution of container traffic at UK ports, mapping the patterns of container trade relations, focusing on regional trade specialisations as well as transshipment patterns. The paper identifies a potential deconcentration of container traffic within the UK port system, related to a shift in gateway region for UK trade, increasingly being transshipped through continental ports rather than the traditional southeastern UK ports, as well as a shift in role at UK ports from gateways to transshipment hubs. This deconcentration has potential benefit for regional UK ports, many of which are pursuing significant port expansions to take advantage of these trends. These ports seek to reposition themselves within an emerging feeder market that could reduce their peripherality embedded by the current concentrated UK port and infrastructure system. The paper thus raises questions about port policy and both public and private sector responses to a changing UK port geography.


Wilmsmeier, G., & Monios, J. (2013). Counterbalancing peripherality and concentration: an analysis of the UK container port system. Maritime Policy and Management, 40, 116-132.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2013-02
Deposit Date Mar 20, 2013
Print ISSN 0308-8839
Electronic ISSN 1464-5254
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 40
Pages 116-132
Keywords Freight transportation; ports and harbours; strategic planning and policy; regional development; United Kingdom; UK;
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