International hauliers face “Armageddon” if no deal is struck in regards to Brexit, industry commentators have warned.

The warning came as the DfT’s contingency plan for a no-deal Brexit revealed that hauliers working in mainland Europe will receive less than 5% of the licences they need to keep their wheels turning.

Of the estimated 38,000-plus UK-registered trucks plying their trade between the UK and the EU, more than 95% will not qualify for the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) permit. This is the permit that will replace the current European Community Licence if the UK crashes out of EU without a deal.

The ECMT permit system is quota driven with the EU assigning each country a set number of licences. The UK has 1,240 permits, of which 984 are available on an annual basis and the rest monthly. Although there are some open to HGVs that meet the Euro-5 emissions standard, most are for Euro-6 trucks. The permits must be displayed in each truck’s cab window.

The DfT has admitted that the few ECMT permits on offer will significantly exceed supply.

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Kevin Hopper, MD of haulage firm Brian Yeardley Continental, said a no-deal Brexit would create an “Armageddon” for the haulage industry and the wider economy.

Hopper, who has attended Brexit planning meetings at the DfT, said: “In the 30 years I have been in the transport business for the first time ever I feel that I am not in control of the destiny of my own business. That is in the hands of the government and it is not fit for purpose.

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“It has no idea about this industry and seems incapable of understanding it. Meanwhile, my people are asking me if their jobs are safe, but what can I tell them? If I can’t get the permits I need for my 60 trucks we will have a massive problem on our hands and so will the UK.”

The RHA has warned that the resulting shortfall of UK lorries able to run to and from Europe could lead to massive delays in the delivery of essential goods such as food, clothing and medicines into the UK.

It has also pointed out that the inevitable increase in bureaucracy is likely to see many EU hauliers removing themselves from the UK market, creating a supply chain shortfall that can’t be plugged.

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