The decision to delay the vote on the Withdrawal Agreement has only made UK ports that trade with the EU more anxious about what they might need to prepare for and when it might be needed by, a leading industry group has warned.
Voicing its concerns about a possible hard Brexit, the British Ports Association, which represents more than 350 ports, terminal operators and port facilities, said the roll-on roll ports who facilitate tens of thousands of lorry and trailers movements between Britain and Europe every day could face "real challenges".
BPA Chief Executive, Richard Ballantyne, added: “Adapting terminals and systems to accommodate new borders processes at short notice would be very difficult although at non ro-ro ports, while there definitely could be some issues, the pressures would be less challenging.
“This is not just an issue for ports: wider supply chains could also face major changes. We have been speaking extensively to colleagues in the haulage, logistics, manufacturing and customs agency sectors and its fair to say that across industry substantial reorganisation and culture change would be needed to prepare for a ‘no deal’ Brexit. This will take time and investment.”
Chief Executive of the Road Haulage Association, Richard Burnett said planning for road transport in the event of a no-deal Brexit is “dire” and “simply not robust enough”.
Speaking at a meeting of French businesses and officials at the Hauts de France regional government headquarters in Lille, Burnett spelt out the complex customs procedures that would be needed – citing the example of one haulier who has 8,000 different shipments on a lorry – each requiring an import and export declaration and a Safety and Security Declaration. With 3,000 trucks a week crossing the channel for that one firm that would mean millions of pieces of paperwork.
He added: "With each declaration taking 10 minutes you would need 170 people working 8 hours a day to process one load. Customs processes simply won’t work.”
He went on to say that Government assurances that they would relax rules to allow faster movement of lorries “may mean firms are breaking the law by not doing customs paperwork and no responsible firm will want to take that risk”.
“It’s critical we keep volume moving in case of a No Deal Brexit and UK haulage businesses are deeply concerned about the lack of clarity and information.”
Posted on: December 11th 2018