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Apply for permits ‘just in case’, government tells hauliers

[ October 22, 2020   //   ]

The government is encouraging hauliers to apply for ECMT (European Conference of Ministers of Transport) permits “as a precautionary measure” in case current negotiations fail to eliminate the need for them.

The announcement set alarm bells ringing in the trade, with Logistics UK saying that in a call with government the previous day, stakeholders had been told these permits should not be needed. Policy manager for the South East, Heidi Skinner said: “If they are now considered vital for continuing to trade with the EU, logistics businesses need assurances that sufficient will be available (current allocation to the UK falls short by a factor of four) to prevent hauliers being forced out of business. In addition, more clarification is needed on exactly how and where permit applications can be made and what the selection process will entail.”

The government also announced that it will prioritise the journeys of a small number of HGVs with exports that are very time-sensitive – such as fresh and live seafood, and day-old chicks.

It meanwhile launched a targeted information campaign to help hauliers prepare for the end of the Brexit transition period. Radio, press and digital advertising will be used to make them aware of the upcoming changes and the need for customs clearance and to have the correct documentation for each stage of their journey.

A haulier handbook will be made available in 14 different languages, providing key information and, from November, hauliers will also be able to visit one of 45 ‘Information and Advice Sites’ across the UK, offering in-person assistance on how to apply for the documents needed to keep them travelling to, from and through the EU.

Legislation to enable the enforcement of Operation Brock – the traffic management streategy in Kent – has also been brought forward to ensure the plans can be implemented if needed. The new rules confirm that it will be mandatory for all heavy goods vehicles using the Short Straits channel crossings to obtain a digital Kent Access Permit (KAP), following completion of the government’s new ‘Check an HGV’ service.

Logistics UK said however that the plans still missed much of the detail operators need to plan effectively.  Systems must be finished and thoroughly tested before the end of the transition period, and the guidance provided by government must be practical and effective to ensure there is no confusion or misinterpretation.

Heidi Skinner added: “The Hauliers Handbook presented by government as a solution for those crossing borders still needs much work, and must be tested by users to ensure it is fit for purpose.  As we approach the busy Christmas trading period, it is imperative that sufficient time is made available to ensure that this can be done without impacting vital work which logistics operators must complete.  With so much complexity and new processes created or amended in the last few weeks, drivers and hauliers need a user-friendly, go-to document to support them in their preparations and daily activities from 1 January.

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