No-deal Brexit plans branded 'bonkers' by Road Haulage Association

Lorry drivers are often treated as the ‘lowest of the low’ MSPs were told (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Plans for movement of HGVs across borders after a no-deal Brexit are “bonkers” and “a shambles”, according to a director of the Road Haulage Association (RHA). Rod McKenzie said part of the issue is a lack of permits that may be needed to allow drivers to transport goods internationally. He also raised concerns about “unpleasant” conditions in proposed lorry parks, where hauliers would have to stay in the event of customs delays.

No-deal Brexit plans branded 'bonkers' by Road Haulage AssociationLorry parks, such as this one in Kent, are currently under construction (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Mr McKenzie, the RHA’s policy director, told a Scottish Parliament committee on Thursday that the industry is not prepared for the disruption caused in the event of a no-deal Brexit on January 1.

Joan McAlpine, convener of Holyrood’s Europe Committee, asked him if the haulage industry is prepared for this outcome. He said: “Absolutely not, this is a shambles. It’s been a shambles from beginning to end.

“The information we have is incomplete, inadequate and quite often totally incomprehensible. “We feel we have been badly let down by the UK Government from beginning to end.” A no-deal Brexit could mean hauliers will be forced to rely on international road haulage permits known as ECMT permits, he said, demand for which far outstrips supply.

There are only about 4,000 of these permits despite more than 40,000 being required, he said, and it is not possible to print more as the UK is only allocated a certain amount. Mr McKenzie added: “This is where we are now, the current default position is that we are effectively stopping the best part of 90% of companies from trading with Europe. It’s bonkers.”

He said some of the lorry parks are still under construction, which would mean limited facilities for the drivers who might need to use them.

Mr McKenzie said: “I worry about lorry drivers. We don’t treat them well in the UK, the conditions we ask them to go through even in proper lorry parks are pretty poor, mostly. “The idea that these cage areas will be decent places is very worrying to me.

“I’m very concerned about the Covid implications if it is not possible to socially distance that is a problem.” Tory MSP Oliver Mundell said he has been “absolutely appalled” at the conditions for drivers during the pandemic and has raised the issue with Scotland’s Transport Secretary Michael Matheson, with facilities for hauliers initially closed. Mr McKenzie said: “Without trucks you get nothing.

You know, 95%-plus of things we get in Britain come on the back of a lorry at some point. “Yet I regret to say that some people treat lorry drivers as the lowest of the low. “We’ve had many instances of them being refused toilets during the Covid lockdown.”

He said drivers have now been provided with letters they could put in their cabs explaining they had a right to access bathroom facilities.

No-deal Brexit plans branded 'bonkers' by Road Haulage Association

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