A hard Brexit could result in a shortage of both trucks and labour in the freight industry, according to the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT).

The warning comes in the CILT’s response to the Transport Select Committee’s Freight and Brexit inquiry, which considers the impact of a hard Brexit.

The institute warned that if Brexit results in the withdrawal of cabotage rights, the estimated 16,000 to 20,000 foreign trucks currently operating on UK roads would no longer be able to ply for loads whilst in the UK.

The CILT report warned: “This is around 15% of the UK registered trucks of 30 tonnes and above and therefore a key part of UK capacity.

"These trucks have cabotage rights and can ply for loads when in the UK; this they do very competitively since their terms of employment and operating costs are favourable.”

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It added: “If cabotage rights are withdrawn - the UK will be short of trucking capacity and prices will rise.”

Turning to the workforce, the CILT warned that of the estimated 2.9 million people employed in freight and logistics, “at least 400,000 non-UK EU nationals are in this workforce, making workforce availability an issue”.

It added: “The institute believes that the combination of an employment environment that is now felt to be hostile by non-UK EU nationals and an ageing workforce is a crisis in the making.”

Whilst the CILT acknowledged that Brexit could benefit the sector by reducing the amount of red tape, it warned that whilst the final deal remains unclear “both companies and government need to plan and rehearse the scenarios before the outcome is finalised in order not to risk economic damage during the transition”.