Heysham shipping deal gets Irish approval

A controversial deal involving shipping lines operating out of Heysham has been approved by the Irish Competition Authority.

The state body investigated Stena’s £40m bid for the Belfast-Birkenhead and Belfast-Heysham services previously operated by DFDS Seaway.

The ICA decided that the deal would not lessen competition on Irish Sea passenger and freight ferries in the Republic of Ireland.

The takeover is also being investigated by the UK’s Competition Commission, which has not yet delivered its verdict.

Stena said in a statement: “As the Irish and UK competition processes are separate, we now await the decision of the UK Competition Commission, which is expected by 25 July.

“Stena Line has provided an undertaking to the Competition Commission that the acquired business will operate as an autonomous entity until its decision is made.”

Shortly after the deal was announced in January, DFDS closed its route between Dublin and Birkenhead and Heysham and Stena’s service between Larne and Fleetwood.

Hauliers feared that the reduction to four firms operating 14 freight routes could drive up prices for the crossings.

Stena has taken over the DFDS port operations at Heysham, Belfast and Birkenhead.