Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Some Decisions on Road Infrastructure but Doubt Over Haulage Permits for Freight Trucks Linger

Brexit Concerns Trouble Industry Association as Highway Investment Announced
Shipping News Feature
UK – There is good and bad news for British hauliers this week with the Freight Transport Association (FTA) pointing to new investment in the country's roads, whilst arguing that more is still needed. Meanwhile the Road Haulage Association (RHA) is concerned that the matter of permits for European haulage operations post Brexit still needs resolution.

Firstly those permits, the government has now outlined the rules that will apply for issuing international road haulage permits post Brexit. Detailed in a consultation response issued by DfT, these rules may apply in both a deal or no-deal situation but the RHA says, despite the proximity of a due date for a deal, there are many gaps in our knowledge.

The RHA pronounces its concerns that no significant progress has been made regarding road haulage post Brexit and UK operators will not know for some months if they will need permits to move goods to, or through the EU. The organisation’s summary of the Consultation Response and Statutory Instrument can be found here and RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett, expressed frustration at the situation, saying:

“The ability of UK haulage operators to move goods to, from and through the EU (and vice versa), is essential for the people and businesses of both the UK and EU. Last week’s 'quiet announcement' still leaves us with many unanswered questions and highlights how far things still need to progress. We understand the Government wants a comprehensive deal without quota limits. We would support that, and we hope it will be successful. Any system that limits access by quota is unacceptable.

“We still don't know if the UK will require EU hauliers to obtain reciprocal permits to enter the UK, or if the UK will allow EU operators to enter the UK using their current community licences. Until we see the guidance on the criteria and allocation process for permits operators will remain in the dark. Multiple fees for crossing different EU States are also a great concern. We will continue to work with Government and others across the EU to find practical, simple and workable solutions that are in the interest of all the people and businesses of the UK and the EU.”

The better news is the development of 'vastly improved' road connectivity, according to the Freight Transport Association (FTA) with the announcement of to two new schemes, the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway and the proposed reclassification of an A14 section to a motorway, the main route from East Anglian ports, including Britain’s busiest container port at Felixstowe, to the Midlands and beyond.

Following the confirmation of the upgraded corridor of the new Oxford-Cambridge Expressway by Jesse Norman MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, journeys between the two cities are expected to reduce by up to 40 minutes. Malcolm Bingham, Head of Road Network Management Policy at FTA, commented more investment in the network is required, saying this should be the starting point for a full programme of upgrades across the strategic road network.

It was also proposed by Highways England that the section of the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme between Ellington and Girton be upgraded to a motorway and speaking of both schemes Bingham said:

"For too long, poor road connectivity in the heart of England has impacted businesses and slowed economic growth. The Oxford-Cambridge Expressway, which connects two vital trading areas, will provide faster and easier journeys for commercial vehicle operators and other road users, unlocking the potential for new business opportunities and jobs.

"While FTA welcomed the £1.5 billion improvement scheme in 2016, it voiced its recommendation that the Cambridge to Huntingdon stretch be reclassified to a motorway. The stretch represents an important strategic link for freight transport, connecting the ports in East Anglia with the Midlands and the rest of England, and its declassification to a motorway will help keep traffic flowing and goods moving.

"While the government is planning to upgrade several of the UK's roads, from the dualling of the A303 and A30 in the south to the creation of a Lower Thames Crossing to the east of London, the importance of a strong, resilient road network to economic prosperity must not be underestimated. Further infrastructure investment is desperately needed to provide a well-connected, safe, reliable and efficient road network nationwide."

A change of designation will also apply to the A1 from Alconbury to Brampton. Highways England is due to submit the application for this work in winter 2018 and expects to receive a decision in the second half of 2019.

Photo: The busy A14 has seen many crashes such as this as trucks stream to and from the East Anglia ports.