Government plans to strengthen compliance with Operation Brock – the queueing system to be introduced for lorries in Kent in the event of a No Deal Brexit – will place the responsibility to travel with correct documentation on haulage businesses, despite a lack of clarity on the actual paperwork required, according to the Freight Transport Association.
The FTA is concerned that the plans do not take into account the information still required by those travelling to and from the EU about the nature and processing of data which will be needed at the border.
“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,” says Heidi Skinner, policy manager southeast, Freight Transport Association.
“Those moving goods to and from European customers and beyond need clear instructions on how and where tariffs and documentation must be declared before Operation Brock is implemented, and with less than three months until the UK’s departure from the EU, the pressure is mounting with no help from government.
“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.
"To add the threat of significant fines of over £300 for those drivers trying to circumvent the system and achieve their Just in Time deliveries 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 to and from the UK’s largest trading partner,” she says.
The consultation’s announcement also demonstrates that government acknowledges that there will be vehicular delays at Channel ports once the UK leaves the EU, and confirms that queues and increased waiting times will occur for both hauliers and private road users.
“Of course, effective traffic management is vital to ensure that residents and businesses in Kent and the rest of the south east can continue their daily lives smoothly and efficiently,” she says. “But the government’s plans around Operation Brock contradict its assertion that there will be no delays at the country’s Channel ports, and indicate that queues of vehicles are to be expected travelling to the coast.
“The fines system proposed by the government is unclear, with no indication of where and how fines are to be collected and with no indication of a “fast pass” system for “just in time” goods being outlined, the resulting delays could be disastrous for perishable or time sensitive items.
“Logistics is an agile, flexible sector with a willingness to adapt to and learn new processes which is second to none,” she concludes. “But with only two months from the end of the consultation to take key learnings on board and introduce different ways of working, the sector will be hard pressed to protect Britain’s complex and interdependent supply chain.”