Logistics UK said hauliers should be reassured by the government’s contingency plans for any disruption on Kent roads in January, after it said it would introduce legislation to enforce Operation Brock.

However, it also said the latest plans still lack the detail that companies needed to plan ahead.

Following consultation with the industry, the Department for Transport said it would bring forward legislation to enforce the traffic management strategy, which should reduce the risk of disruption as hauliers travel through Kent to reach the Short Straits.

The new rules also confirm that it will be mandatory to obtain a digital Kent Access Permit, so that HGVs can “move smoothly” to the ports.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “By putting in place these plans we’re ensuring Kent keeps moving, our fantastic haulage industry is supported, and trade continues to flow as we embark on our future as a fully independent state.”

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From November, hauliers will also be able to visit one of 45 information and advice sites across the UK, which will give assistance on how to apply for the documents needed to travel to and from the EU.

In addition, hauliers will be encouraged to apply for European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) permits as a precautionary measure.

Heidi Skinner, Logistics UK policy manager, said a ‘haulier handbook’, being made available by the government to provide businesses with information and advice, still needed work and had to be tested to ensure it was fit for purpose: “As we approach the busy Christmas trading period, it is imperative that sufficient time is made available to ensure that this can be done without impacting vital work which logistics operators must complete,” she said.

“With so much complexity and new processes created or amended in the last few weeks, drivers and hauliers need a user-friendly, go-to document to support them in their preparations and daily activities from 1 January.”

Skinner also said confusion had been created by the announcement on ECMT permits: “In a call with the government, stakeholders were told these permits should not be needed,” she said. “If they are now considered vital for continuing to trade with the EU, logistics businesses need assurances that sufficient will be available to prevent hauliers being forced out of business.”

The government also announced that it would prioritise the journeys of a small number of HGVs with exports that are very time-sensitive – including fresh and live seafood, and day-old chicks.