Ports, terminal operators and shipping companies may have to recover the costs of complying with new security regulations through higher rates for customers, one company has warned.

Transit Medway, which runs a terminal operation dealing mainly with timber at the Port of Rochester, warned that the cost of compliance with the International Ship and Port Facility Code, being introduced on July 1, could be passed on to ship owners and operators as higher charges.

Managing director Mark Lay said: “Even for a relatively small port facility such as Transit, the cost of compliance – both in terms of physical improvements to security such as improved fencing and CCTV, and new systems of management – can run to tens of thousands of pounds.”

He said the container sector had already been increasing charges, a trend he expects to filter down to general port operators.

Transit Medway, which handles about 130 vessels a year bringing in mainly Scandinavian redwood, has had its security plan approved by the government.

Romford-based shipper Scotline Ltd, which has also had security plans approved for its wharf and shipping operations, said port authorities were warning operators that vessels without approved security programmes would not be allowed to dock.

Managing director Peter Millatt said: “We have had to invest a lot of money on the terminal and on the ships, there is a big cost to it.”

Mr Millatt described the security risk of bringing in timber from Scandinavia as “very low” and thought the regulations were more aimed at facilities like oil and gas refineries.