RHA hails ports upgrade but urges more Brexit clarity

Britain’s Road Haulage Association (RHA) is welcoming the UK government’s intention to spend GBP30m (US£36m) on upgrades to port infrastructure, road and rail links, but cautions it will be of limited benefit if traders are not supported with clear instructions on how to ensure all shipments are border ready.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has asked ports across England to bid for a share of GBP10m to enhance capacity and maintain trade flow as Britain heads towards a planned 31 October exit date from the European Union. The British government will also provide GBP5m to four local resilience forums in areas with key freight ports for infrastructure improvements to minimise traffic disruption at the border. A further GBP15m will go towards longer-term projects to boost road and rail links to ports and ensure more freight can get where it needs to be faster, but the RHA maintains how this portion of the grant will be used has not yet been announced.

“Of course we welcome government’s commitment to making ports Brexit ready but as with all infrastructure improvements they take time and that is a commodity we do not have,” said RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett. “Our concerns are much more immediate. There is still a lack of clarity as regards the paperwork and processes needed to maintain free-flowing traffic.

If one haulier is found to have incorrect documents then the knock-on effects will be catastrophic. “No amount of infrastructure improvements will be able to cope with tailbacks of traffic resulting from one truck having incorrect or missing paperwork.” The political backdrop to the UK’s exit remains fluid with uncertainty remaining as to whether Britain exits with a deal or not.

The DfT says it is continuing to prepare for “all circumstances” after 31 October and has been implementing an information campaign to ensure hauliers have the documents they need to carry goods into the EU.

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