Thursday, November 8, 2018

Relief for Northern Irish Hauliers After No-Deal Brexit Truck Permit Situation Resolved  

Elsewhere in Britain Freight Association Points Out Problems Brewing

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Shipping News Feature UK – Much has been said regarding the situation of British road haulage operators in the light of a no-deal Brexit outcome, with a paucity of European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) commercial vehicle permits to be available. There is one place in the UK however where that result would have far greater implications than elsewhere, namely Northern Ireland, where cross border trade is a way of life with trucks running constantly across the border with the Republic.

On Tuesday this week, Baroness Sugg put forward a Motion to Approve in the House of Lords covering the whole question of ECMT permits should the current negotiations end as many fear, with no solid deal on matters of trade. During her speech she covered the area of Northern Irish permits comprehensively, saying:

”Noble Lords may be particularly interested in how these instruments will affect Northern Irish hauliers. The regulations do not require Northern Ireland hauliers to carry permits when on international journeys to or through Ireland. This is in keeping with our position in the Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Act: that we will not introduce permits on the island of Ireland without the consent of the Government of Ireland.

”On trailer registration, Ireland has not ratified the 1968 Vienna convention so UK trailers do not need to be registered to be used in Ireland. The enforcement orders cover only Great Britain; enforcement in Northern Ireland is covered by devolved legislation. It will be for the Northern Ireland Executive and Northern Ireland Civil Service to decide whether they wish to enforce these offences using financial penalty deposits.

”Nevertheless, the absence of the Executive will not prevent the Driver and Vehicle Agency in Northern Ireland enforcing these offences through the Northern Irish court system.”

The news was a welcome relief to hauliers who regularly transit both countries and was greeted by the Freight Transport Association (FTA) which said it had originally been advised that the Province would only be eligible for approximately 60 ECMT annually, a massive shortfall. Those with a British operator’s license will have to apply for an ECMT permit if they plan to drive in the Republic of Ireland, or elsewhere in the EU, from 29 March 2019. Seamus Leheny, FTA’s Northern Ireland Policy Manager, commented:

“When you consider more than 4,000 goods vehicles cross the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic daily, the allowance of 60 vehicle permits per year would have inoperably damaged the transport industry and in turn, the businesses who rely on these imported goods and services to operate.

“Thankfully, the Northern Ireland Department for Infrastructure has confirmed all operators with a NI licence will not be required to obtain an ECMT permit to travel to ROI. While FTA welcome this special status for businesses in Northern Ireland, it will help maintain vital cross border, all-island supply chains in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the ideal scenario would be a UK-wide application.

“British operators will only have access to 1,224 permits per year, which is painfully short of the required total. Without frictionless movement between the UK and EU-27 countries, we can expect to see severe delays which will threaten our complex supply chain. It’s promising to see such progress has made been in NI in regard to vehicle permits, but this must be applied across the UK to prevent the logistics industry, and in turn, the wider UK economy grinding to a halt.”

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