A campaign by the Freight Transport Association (FTA) for greater information on trading deals post-Brexit has been given a boost this week by the publication of a report from the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee on Brexit. The report highlights the need for freight and logistics operators to be fully informed about future trading and customs procedures, so that transport contracts can be fulfilled and Britain can continue to be an effective trader internationally.
In addition, the Committee has urged the government to make substantial investment in the procedures and personnel required to keep the UK’s borders functioning upon its formal exit from the European Union on March 29 2019 – doing so would keep trade flowing and ensure the fulfilment of transport contracts in the haulage industry.
FTA Urges Forward Planning
In response to the report, Chris Yarsley, Policy Manager at FTA, stated that, “The Select Committee’s report reinforces what FTA has been saying for months, that freight and logistics operators need clarity on future customs arrangements in order to plan efficiently for a post-Brexit world... To leave everything to the last minute could bring the nation’s businesses to a standstill”.
Yarsley added, “The new trading arrangements with Europe and beyond will need careful planning, with a fully trained, fully staffed workforce which can handle the millions of additional declarations that will be required at the border. FTA is heartened that the Select Committee has recognised this need, and is urging the government to take this recommendation on board as a priority, to ensure that trade does not grind to a halt on Brexit day”.
Concerns Over Contracts
The potential for unmet transport contracts by British companies was emphasised in the report as well, with the cancellation of a planning application for a new lorry park in Stanford West on the M20 in Kent being cited as particularly worrying. The park – with a planned capacity of 3,600 lorries – was intended to negate any need to implement Operation Stack when a section of the M20 is closed during periods of cross-Channel disruption. Instead, Highways England is now drafting new plans. The committee made clear that a failure on the part of government to act decisively could lead to the industry “facing Operation Stack on steroids”.
Yarsley endorsed the committee’s concerns about transport; contracts are, according to him, at risk of falling through if the Stanford West project were permanently shelved: “Our members are very concerned about a lack of adequate, safe and secure parking for drivers awaiting movement through the ports, as well as the impact on the road network and residents in Kent... we would urge government to reconsider its decision on Stanford West as a matter of urgency, to prevent gridlock across the road network”.
Highways England has now been asked by the government to draft new plans, with an interim solution expected to be in place by March 2019, the same month in which the UK is due to formally leave the European Union. As Brexit negotiations continue to make uncertain progress, professionals throughout the haulage industry are hoping for a business-friendly outcome.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching drivers with transport contracts. Over 4,800 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.