The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport is urging the government, operators and customers to take steps to ensure the industry is prepared for Brexit.
It has responded to The Transport Select Committee’s inquiry into the effects of Brexit on UK freight operations, through a submission which outlines the fundamental role freight and logistics will play in supporting the UK economy in a post-Brexit world from its Freight and Logistics Policy Group.
The CILT’s submission is supported by a series of roundtable discussions with officials from the Department for Transport, HMRC and DExEU, which made it clear that that the impact of Brexit on freight is dependent on the detailed conditions relating to border management processes and employment. Therefore, the government needs to promote preparatory steps to be taken by industry members ahead of the UK’s exit from the European Union.
The CILT argued that the committee’s terms of reference are limiting as they exclude border or customs arrangements. It pointed out that that nearly 40 per cent (400 million tonnes) of the goods moved within the UK are either imported or exported, and if international supply chains and domestic operators were to be disrupted post-Brexit then shippers will look for alternative routings and sources based on economic or service conditions.
The Institute predicts that worst scenario of a hard Brexit would include increases in unaccompanied trailer movements between the UK and Europe, deep sea port activity, stock and warehouse requirements, as well as a reduction in foreign vehicles operating in the UK.
These changes require capacity that may not exist in the market today and threaten consumer and industrial prices as it will put a strain on highly agile operators from responding economically, believes the CILT’s Freight and Logistics Policy Group. “Preparing for Brexit is key to the success of the UK’s freight sector,” said CILT head of policy, Daniel Parker-Klein. “The Institute is clear that companies and government must plan and rehearse for a variety of scenarios in order not to risk economic damage during transition.”
The CILT is urging the government promote and incentivise investment in automation to prepare for the pressure the work force will be faced with post-Brexit. Despite the 60 per cent of tonnes that only move through the UK that will not be as challenged post-Brexit, it will still encounter problems regarding staff availability as this activity is represented by over 400,000 HGVs and another one million vans.
The CILT has also warned about issues of interoperability and the need for the UK to remain aligned with EU regulations on vehicle and equipment standards to facilitate the transition.