Bank Holiday-style traffic queues could become an everyday occurrence around Britain’s ports and airports after Brexit unless the government prioritises the needs of freight and logistics in the negotiations, the Freight Transport Association has warned.
“Without giving due consideration to the freight industry and its needs, trade between the UK and Europe will suffer,” says Pauline Bastidon, FTA’s head of European policy.
At Dover she said, “more than 2.5 million lorries travel through the terminal every year – up to 10,000 every day, and currently there is minimal disruption to vehicle users in the immediate vicinity of the port. However, if the implementation of additional customs checks at the UK’s border cause unforeseen delays, the port estimates that tailbacks through the town, and onto the UK’s motorway network could grow at a rate of 10km per hour.
“At busy times of year, such as Bank Holidays and peak summer travel weekends, these tailbacks could form even faster around all our ports and airports that handle goods coming from the EU – not just at Dover. This will add a significant amount to journey times for all road users, not just freight operators and have a potentially catastrophic impact on the British transport network.”
To ensure that this situation does not become a reality, FTA wants the government to ensure that trade and logistics arrangements are at the heart of any Brexit negotiations, and vehicle checks are avoided at airports and ports. Customs systems and procedures will need to be upgraded, to ensure that the UK’s border staff are capable of handling up to 300 million additional annual declarations.