British Sugar has agreed to make changes to its haulage scheme after alienating some operators by encouraging capacity investment with no guarantee of tonnage.

An independent analysis of British Sugar’s industry harvesting and haulage scheme (IHHS) found that resulting bad feeling was repeated annually, with each new cycle of selection negotiations.

The IHHS was set up to provide transport and harvest services to growers, but concerns regarding the operation of the scheme led to British Sugar and the National Farmers Union jointly funding an independent report.

The Douglas report found no evidence of wrong-doing, and that any allegations of grooming operators to invest before turning them away because of high rates were anecdotal.

However, the report said there was a lack of understanding among hauliers and growers regarding the role of the tender portal.

It said: “Groomed operators have allegedly been encouraged to increase capacity in previous campaigns and are then being allocated low or no tonnage as rates are deemed too high.”

It recommended greater clarity and improved transparency of the haulier selection and added: “Reconciliation with groomed hauliers is necessary to prevent the perception of British Sugar ditching operators solely on price, even after investment to boost their fleet capacity.”

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British Sugar said it was now implementing several changes ahead of the 2018/19 harvest.

MD Paul Kenward said: “I take the recommendations of the Douglas report seriously and we are committed to implementing them.

"The IHSS has the potential to drive further efficiencies and yield improvements for our growers and we will continue to work with NFU Sugar [growers’ representative] to deliver a better scheme for the future.”