With only 17 working days left until the UK leaves the European Union, the Road Haulage Association is deeply concerned at the complete and utter lack of clarity that remains with regards to the border crossing process to the European mainland and beyond.
Commenting, RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett said: “It is patently clear that government has lost its way. There are some momentous decisions to be made both in the run up to Brexit and beyond. Yet tens of thousands of UK hauliers responsible for keeping the supply chain between the UK and the rest of Europe are still in the dark. Because of government ineptitude they are simply not ready.”
But the Association is keen to point out that this isn’t just about trucks. It’s about the economy and the millions of UK and European businesses that rely on an effective supply chain. Those whose livelihoods depend on a smooth and dependable distribution network will suffer, for example those carrying and those waiting for perishable goods and medicines.
A good illustration of this is the music industry, worth millions and totally dependent on a smooth-running transport operation. A venue with a capacity of, say 30,000, needs to be booked months or even years in advance. A delay of just six hours in the transport arrangements could easily mean the cancellation of the venue and the knock-on effects such as ticket sales, personnel costs etc. will be disastrous.
A similar example is that of Formula 1 racing. The very nature and success of the sport is based on split second timing. A racing team may need over 20 trucks to transport the cars and technical equipment needed for each race. If only 14 arrive on time then it will be a disaster, and again the jobs of the many thousands of people employed in the sector will be put at risk.
Twelve months ago, transport secretary, Chris Grayling went on record as saying: “We will maintain a free-flowing border at Dover – we will not impose checks in the port. We don’t check lorries now – we’re not going to be checking lorries in Dover in the future. The only reason we would have queues at the border is if we put in place restrictions that created those queues – we are not going to do that.”
“This is at odds with the reality of the situation,” continued Richard Burnett. “It’s misleading. If the French are going check both inbound and outbound trucks the timing of the supply chain into the UK will be severely affected.
“The whole situation has turned into a farce as is being clearly demonstrated in Calais right now. And, through no fault of its own, the industry on which the economies on both sides of the Channel rely so heavily is being set up for a fall of catastrophic proportions.”