Hundreds of shipping containers left stacked in field near Felixstowe port

Speculation mounting over pile’s provenance amid supply chain crisis

Jon Sharman
Tuesday 02 November 2021 16:19
<p>Shipping containers being stored near the A140 in Suffolk</p>

Shipping containers being stored near the A140 in Suffolk

A 60ft mountain of shipping containers has risen up just a few miles from Britain’s biggest freight port, sparking speculation about why the metal containers have appeared.

The storage site is 26 miles from Felixstowe on an old airfield near Eye in Suffolk, a small market town.

Hundreds of containers, thought to be empty, are being held at the site off the A140. They are stacked on land owned by a car dealership.

The mountain stretches for more than 100m and containers are stacked six high. However, the reasons for its appearance were not clear.

Earlier this year container ships were forced to divert from Felixstowe due to lack of drivers and labour shortages which hampered efforts to unload and reload ships.

The UK Major Ports Group chief executive Tim Morris said at the time that port authorities were managing access to storage space with “short-term restrictions” in a bid to ease congestion issues.

Industry experts have said some hauliers are finding it cheaper to store empty containers outside ports, or there is limited capacity ahead of Christmas.

Containers are stacked up to six high in the 100m-long metal mountain

Felixstowe Port said it did not know anything about the Suffolk metal mountain, because shipping companies and hauliers are not obliged to tell its bosses about their container arrangements.

Car and commercial vehicle dealer Roy Humphreys confirmed the shipping containers were on its land and not owned by it, but declined to comment further.

Mail Online cited an industry source as claiming the containers had been “snarled up” at Felixstowe amid the global supply chain crisis, which has seen congestion at ports globally and a lack of lorry drivers available to move cargo, causing “a deal [to be] done with the landowner”.

One haulier, however, said this was not necessarily the case. Adam Searle, of CP Transport, told The East Anglian Daily Times merchants had recently been buying containers for one use only, before selling them on. The empty containers are then stored in a cheap location, he said.

Ports worldwide have faced a backlog of containers that required creative thinking to shift. In California, the state governor ordered private lots and state and federal land to be found for storage of crates that were blocking new shipments from entering ports like Los Angeles’.

But those were full containers, not empty ones as those in Suffolk are thought to be.

For some weeks now industry figures have been warning of goods shortages at Christmas due to a supply chain crisis linked in part to both Brexit and coronavirus.

Measures taken by the government, including raising limits on the amount of cargo foreign drivers can deliver to Britain, mean “Christmas will go ahead”, Grant Shapps insisted last month.

Additional reporting by SWNS

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