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Smart Freight launch to miss Brexit deadline, says Logistics UK

[ September 16, 2020   //   ]

The Smart Freight system that will control freight moving between the UK and Continent after Brexit is unlikely to be fully operational by the end of the year, reports Logistics UK (formerly FTA).

Only the Beta version is now anticipated for launch in mid-December, it said.

Director of policy Elizabeth de Jong described the news as “a crushing disappointment”.

She was dismayed at the revelation that the system will not be fully tested and stable until April 2021 – “far too late for the end of the EU transition period at midnight on New Year’s Eve”. 

The news comes only a few days after Under Secretary of State Rachel Maclean told Transport Committee on 9 September that while the timeframe for development of the Smart Freight  was tight, it was “on track”, despite the known difficulties of developing government IT systems. She said that hauliers would need to register with the system and operators of trucks that failed to do so could face fines of up to £300.

De Jong added: “Businesses which will depend on the system to ensure the continued flow of goods and services to the EU were already working to very short deadlines if the SmartFreight system was to be tested and operational by the end of the year. To find out, with only 14 weeks to go, that there will not be a ready, workable solution for those moving goods to the EU is a massive blow to UK businesses and the economy. The government needs to understand the complexity of the UK’s highly interconnected logistics industry and the amount of co-ordination required in order to use SMART Freight, and prioritise the allocation of more resource to deliver the system on time, to protect the UK’s supply chain. “

The Government later insisted that the Smart Freight scheme was on track and on schedule to start before the end of the year.

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