Friday, October 9, 2020

Brexit Changes Announced But It's All Refinement and Minor Alterations Ahead of the Big Day

Freight and Logistics Lobby Warn Traders to Prepare as Additional Details Revealed
Shipping News Feature

UK – Whilst the Covid-19 pandemic (and somewhat bizarrely the forthcoming US election) continue to dominate the headlines in the British press, the spectre of Brexit approaches like Marley's ghost of Christmas yet to come. Whether the future can be changed at this late stage as in Dicken's novel however remains to be seen, especially considering the latest pronouncements coming from parts of the EU negotiating team.

The one concrete thing which has emerged this week has been some fine tuning and fuller details concerning the UK government’s the Border Operating Model, something which produced a fairly bland reaction from the country’s logistics lobby. In an advertising consultant’s bad dream HMRC has changed the name of the contentious yet snappy ‘SmartFreight’ system to the ponderous ‘Check a Heavy Goods Vehicle is Ready to cross the Border Service’. Perhaps they thought a humble haulier needed to be walked through the process.

This second iteration of the Model does add a little clarity with, for example, the location of the proposed inland sites to provide Common Transit Convention facilities (and ATA Carnet and CITES permit wet-stamping) from 1 January 2021. These are:

  • 1. Ebbsfleet International Station (Kent)
  • 2. North Weald Airfield (Essex)
  • 3. Sevington, Ashford (Kent)
  • 4. Warrington (Cheshire)

The use of these sites is subject to securing any necessary planning and regulatory approvals. Sevington may also be used from 1 January as a temporary traffic management facility to provide lorry holding capacity in the event of disruption at Dover and Eurotunnel. In addition, the use of the site as a contingency site for CTC and ATA Carnet processes, and potentially for traffic management purposes is being considered. This will be subject to the government securing any necessary planning and regulatory approvals. Let’s hope they remember to undertake an ecological survey this time!

In addition to the sites above, HMG is exploring other inland facilities primarily for CTC purposes in locations across the strategic road network across the UK. This includes potential sites in the Thames Gateway and Birmingham areas.

Elsewhere the updates advise of several procedural developments and the British International Freight Association (BIFA) has been reminding its members that Customs entries will be required for goods moving to and from the EU and the three stage approach to re-introducing frontier controls. The government update document also provides additional information regarding the building of port infrastructure and the full document can be viewed HERE.

The elephant in the room of course is still tucked away behind the curtains. Northern Ireland is, as ever a problem for politicians of every hue and is therefore covered by an entirely separate Protocol. Mention of this came from Logistics UK’s Policy Director Elizabeth de Jong, who said:

“Clarification on the arrangements for the UK’s borders with the EU at the end of the Transition Period is welcomed by our members. With less than 90 days to go until implementation, it is imperative that businesses seeking to sell their goods to companies in the EU make the most of this guidance to speed up their preparations and ensure that their paperwork is in order on 1 January 2021.

”Logistics organisations need their customers to prepare if they are to maintain a smooth flow of goods to and from the EU. We now want to see the same clarity and detailed information for the movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, so that businesses can plan and logistics operators avoid delays.”

The message from BIFA and Logistics UK was echoed by the Road Haulage Association (RHA) with chief executive, Richard Burnett’s own comments regarding the Border Operating Model before attending a meeting with Michel Gove alongside other industry figures next week, again stressing preparedness when he said:

“It’s vital that hauliers and traders do everything they can now to prepare for our new trading relationship with the EU. Firms moving goods across borders will have to undertake customs processes whether there’s a deal or no deal. The message is clear, if the paperwork’s not right, the goods won’t cross. I’m glad that Mr Gove is engaging with our industry on post-transition arrangements and I look forward to discussing the detail with him.”