Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Road Haulage Lobby Tells Government What is Needed to Maintain Freight Flows Post Brexit

No Deal in October Will Require Action Now on Systems, Training and Attitude
Shipping News Feature
UK – In a forthright letter to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove MP, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) has set out what it wishes the government to do in preparation for exit from the European Union in October without a deal. In the letter RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett outlines the measures he says would ensure high volumes of freight could continue moving if customs controls are introduced on the fateful day.

At the outset the document states it is not comprehensive or designed to deal with every issue, simply concentrating on the important things that will get the most trucks across the border quickly. By getting the basics right for moving the maximum number of lorries with simple, non-complex shipments on board quickly, it says delays and queues for all crossings between the UK and EU by road will be minimised.

The list of actions which need to be taken starts with a plea for a complete, accurate and basic description about how international road haulage movements will be undertaken from origin to destination. High-level descriptions for the whole end-to-end process need to be provided for the main types of movement i.e. transit through multiple states and direct movement into a state.

The RHA asks for the provision of new locations for ‘offices of departure/destination’ to allow goods to transit across multiple EU member states. It says that this is known about but has not been actioned and current contingency arrangements to use Dover Western Docks, Stop 24 and Manston will not provide enough capacity for transit movements and simply won’t work.

The letter continues to say that HMRC needs to take a new and more flexible approach when it comes to authorised consignor and consignee status and to ensure authorised and approved offices of departure (destination) are up to speed.

When it comes to customs procedures the RHA tells it as it sees it. It states baldly that current inbound Safety & Security declaration (or Entry Summary declaration) plans as proposed by HMRC/Home Office/Border Force will be impossible to deliver. These require a complete resubmission of shipment data for each consignment on a lorry by the road haulier prior to departure from the EU. Lorries can have anything between 1 and 13,000 individual shipments inside.Enter visions of drivers typing endlessly on tablets whilst sitting on ferries.

It says that this resubmission of vast quantities of data, already in the existing government systems, makes no sense. The current suspension for separate inbound Safety & Security declarations needs to be extended followed by the implementation of a new system, as in France where haulier declarations link the traders and the goods with the licence plate of the vehicle transporting the cargo. This is in line with proposals made by the UK logistics sector a year ago.

Furthermore the lack of skilled staff to process customs through the public and private sector needs to be addressed by the government providing online training, to ensure the HMRC’s own assessment that the 250,000 UK businesses and their staff which will be exposed to the requirements of UK and EU customs for the first time, are fully prepared.

It says online training will be needed at two levels, firstly, targeted at staff within traders to ensure that information needed for border formalities is provided by them to those that need it. Secondly, a higher-level module targeted at those within the supply chain having to deal with customs formalities.

One of the major concerns to be addressed is the likelihood of problems in the Dover Strait where so many of the UK’s goods flow in and out. The RHA believes that by implementing its recommendations many of these can be avoided but points out that, should trucks not be able to proceed without significant intervention through ports and terminals, the safety and welfare of drivers need to be properly taken care of.

As we have witnessed previously some of the government’s solutions to this situation have failed lamentably and the RHA wants to ensure driver welfare is catered for before schemes like Operation Brock are implemented and, if this is the case, problems will be much easier to manage flows and disruption.

A final point made is the hypocritical position the government has put itself in with regard to the environment. As the industry moves to clean up with the mandatory use of Euro VI standard lorries, where Government is demanding that many local authorities impose fines on hauliers using lorries over 5/6 years old, it simultaneously has plans to introduce a 22% tariff on lorries purchased by UK companies from the EU in the event of no deal.