As all owner operatorsknow, it is becoming more and more obvious that the freedom of commercial haulage needs to be protected as the UK slowly moves towards Brexit. At the beginning of February, the UK government introduced legislation on cross-border haulage, which aims to prepare them for potential changes to current systems. I am going to break down the new Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Bill to discover what it is and what it means for the industry.
What is the Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Bill?
The Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Bill was introduced in the House of Lords by Baroness Sugg. The most important parts of the bill include preparations for a permit scheme post-Brexit and the launch of a trailer registration scheme that is in accordance with the 1968 Vienna Convention.
Why is the Bill Necessary?
This bill is part of the government’s effort to prepare for life after Brexit. It is possible that a deal that’s made with the European Union would include a permit system. This means that hauliers would need a permit to cross borders. Therefore, the government wants to have legal frameworks in place that – if necessary – would facilitate the introduction of a permitting system. Officials hope that these measures will support UK hauliers’ international work once the UK has left the EU.
The second aspect of the bill – establishing a trailer registration scheme according to the Vienna Convention of 1968 – ensures that UK operators driving on the continent meet all of the requirements of EU countries, several of which insist on the registration of all trailers. These rules are put in place to increase safety and smooth international road travel. There shouldn’t be too many changes, as the Highway Code that’s currently in place in the UK covers most of the Vienna Convention.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling commented on these measures, stating that the UK’s road haulage industry is central to UK-EU trade. He said that the government hopes to make a deal that preserves the liberal access that’s currently enjoyed by both the EU and Britain. However, he hopes that this bill gives owner operatorspeace of mind, knowing that the government is looking to the future and preparing for all eventualities.
Reactions in the industry have been mixed. According to James Hookham, the Deputy Chief Executive of the Freight Transport Association, “The Freight Transport Association supports this bill as a sensible contingency measure, but one that exporting and importing businesses hope never has to be used”. The Association recognises that any change to the status quo of international haulage may trouble UK owner operators, and understand the need for realistic plans that aim to protect the trading relationship between Britain and the EU. As indicated by his statements, Hookham also appreciates the government’s goal of preventing limits from being imposed on the number of goods vehicles that cross the EU-UK borders post-Brexit.
Though we are facing uncertain times in the haulage industry, owner operators can help protect and build their businesses in the years to come by being aware of the potential changes and by trying to prepare for life after we have left the EU.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching haulage companies or an owner operator driver with jobs in road transport and haulage work. Over 5,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.