Hauliers in Northern and Southern Ireland have expressed concern over customs tariffs and border controls springing up after Brexit, warning that costs must increase to mitigate the effects.
MPs belonging to Northern Ireland’s Affairs Committee were told this week that a ‘hard border' between the two countries would cause economic problems and that an EU border should be set up within the UK mainland instead.
Sinead McLaughlin, chief executive of Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, said hauliers in Donegal and Derry were worried about tariffs being introduced on goods and how costs could spiral: “Companies aren’t going to be able to mitigate that,” she said. “And we assume there’s going to be some sort of border, some kind of customs."
McLaughlin also questioned how the border will be policed: “I know a lot of the rhetoric in the lead up to Brexit was that it can be policed electronically, but somebody has to pay for that.”
Derry city council strategy manager Michael Gallagher said he knew of one haulier moving 60,000 tonnes of goods per year between Londonderry and Donegal in the South.
“That’s 45 lorry loads per day,” he told the committee.
“His concerns are that there’s going to be a cost involved to him, not just in terms of time, but in filling something out somewhere every time he’s crossing the border. He estimated it’s going to cost him thousands and thousands of pounds for effectively nothing; there’s no benefit to him. There’s no benefit to anyone,” Gallagher said.
The Irish Road Haulage Association warned last year that the industry was already suffering from the vote to leave the EU, with the subsequent drop in the value of Sterling making operating conditions “unsustainable”.
The RHA warned this week that the prime minister's Brexit plan will likely add administrative cost to road transport.