Expect delays? Proposals For Customs Border Checks Need Urgent Clarification, Say Haulage Businesses
The Department for Transport’s proposals to give traffic officers the power to stop and check haulage drivers’ documentation could have a debilitating effect on businesses in the absence of clarifications on what documents are required, according to haulage business representatives.
Almost £29m has already been set aside for Operation Brock — the queuing system to be introduced for lorries in Kent on the M20 motorway leading to Dover in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.
Those without the right paperwork will be ordered off the road and prevented from onwards travel until they have the correct documents.
But the Freight Transport Association (FTA), which represents a range of industries including removals, has said placing the responsibility to travel with the correct documentation on haulage businesses could lead to untimely delays without clarification on the actual paperwork required.
Heidi Skinner, policy manager for the South East at FTA said: “Introducing new working procedures, and learning new processes takes time, and the lack of clear guidance on these areas is running down the clock for logistics businesses already working to the narrowest of margins.”
“Without clarification from government on exactly the paperwork required at port of entry or departure, this consultation is placing the blame for potential delays at Britain’s ports on the hauliers charged with keeping Britain trading after Brexit.”
Highways Agency traffic officers will also be able to issue fines of over £300 for those drivers perceived as trying to circumvent the system.
“To add the threat of significant fines for drivers will add to the business pressures and potentially increase prices at a time when logistics businesses are doing their utmost to keep goods and services flowing freely,” adds Ms Skinner.
Haulage Businesses: “Business Simply Isn’t Ready”
Haulage businesses will need to register for an EORI (Economic Operators Registration and Identification) number to ensure they can obtain customs clearance ahead of travelling to ports.
But with something close to 250,000 business needing to register for an EORI number, Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association believes the single biggest challenge for industries will be the preparation.
He told BBC news: “Business simply isn’t ready. The government needs to clearly communicate what it is [the customs process] and you need to be able to train individuals within those businesses.
“We need to ensure that vehicles are turning up with their appropriate paperwork because if they don’t they simply wont be able to get on a ferry and transit across to Europe.”
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