Hauliers are still concerned about delays caused by post-Brexit customs checks

Hauliers still have concerns that customs checks will cause delays for freight when the Brexit transition period ends, a trade body has said. The Road Haulage Association (RHA) said the trade deal agreed between the UK and EU means they still face an administrative burden when carrying goods from the UK to the EU. While the deal ensures there will not be tariffs or quotas, goods imported into the EU will need to be subject to “customs formalities” and regulatory checks.

Martin Reid, the RHA’s director for Scotland, said the agreement is preferable to a no-deal Brexit but there are likely to be “teething problems” as the new arrangements are brought in. He told the PA news agency: “At the end of the day a deal is better than no deal. “But the proof will be in the pudding, there’s still a long way to go and there’s uncertainty about the details.

“There’s going to be confusion and mistakes on January 1, but there will be a bedding-in period. “Customs requirements will have to take place. That’s a massive administrative burden on the industry.”

Reid said hauliers are still looking for clarity on groupage transport – where several pallets are carried within the same load – from the UK Government’s Trader Support Service (TSS). This service covers goods which are moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland under the Northern Ireland Protocol. He welcomed the recent announcement that an airfield near Cairnryan in Dumfries and Galloway could be used as an emergency lorry park if Brexit causes delays at the port.

The Scottish Government has said it hopes use of Castle Kennedy in “Operation Overflow” will not be necessary but it is available as a contingency. Up to 240 lorries can be parked in the airfield near Stranraer in case Brexit causes delays to freight. An HMRC spokesman said: “The TSS went live for business in September and has provided guidance and education for thousands of traders.

“Traders are already using the live environment and are able to enter their data on the TSS portal ahead of 1 January.

“Since the TSS was launched, the service has conducted almost 50 direct sessions with trade associations and other bodies, and over 100 engagements with individual firms, explaining how the service can guide them through the new processes under the Northern Ireland Protocol.

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“24,000 UK businesses have now signed up to the TSS, with over 71,000 training guides downloaded and 7,000 individuals attending training webinars.

“The TSS contact centre is also available to support traders over the phone with any queries.”