Britain’s Freight Transport Association (FTA) has questioned whether the government’s projected spend of GBP29m (US$38m) to implement Operation Brock has been made available in time ahead of the UK’s exit from the European Union on 29 March.
Operation Brock is the UK government’s plan which makes extra lorry parking space available at the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel, but uncertainty surrounding whether or not Britain will secure an orderly exit deal with Brussels is causing uncertainty among freight operators.
“The funding commitment for the transport sector is welcome news for a logistics sector charged with keeping Britain trading after Brexit,” said FTA policy manager for the South East, Heidi Skinner. “The logistics industry knows a No Deal departure from the EU will present significant challenges for the sector and this investment for the transport network will provide welcome protection for the vital link for the UK’s trading relationships – 17% of the UK’s trade goes through Dover.
“Whatever the outcome of negotiations, freight will have to adapt, but transport infrastructure must be robust enough to meet the demands of the supply chain. The logistics industry is already being forced to waste millions of pounds trying to prepare for uncertain future, which the industry was promised would not happen. Due to the lack of progress towards a Brexit deal, the logistics industry has been left waiting for an agreement to frictionless trade.
“With under ten weeks to go until Brexit there is still considerable work that needs to be done to ensure the county of Kent and country as a whole is ready to handle new trading conditions. UK and overseas drivers need to understand what restrictions they will face, but there has been no communication yet.
“Freight and logistics firms need information and time to prepare – neither have been given. The logistics industry always does its best to Keep Britain Trading – it is flexible and able to adapt (given notice) but is not, and cannot be, prepared in such a short time to make good the chaos of a no deal Brexit.”
The importance of the Port of Dover to the UK economy can be gauged by the fact it handles up to GBP122bn or 17% of Britain’s trade in goods.
It also process 2.6m freight vehicles per year, 2.3m tourist cars and 12m passengers.