New guidance aimed at tackling major delays to groupage at Northern Ireland ports has been rushed through without reference to the haulage industry and fails to tackle the issue, the RHA told MP Michael Gove this week.

The accusation, made in an open letter from RHA chief executive Richard Burnett, comes as complex Brexit customs arrangements at the border of Northern Ireland, introduced on 1 January, continue to seriously delay deliveries, resulting in a significant drop in trade for hauliers.

It also follows the introduction last week of new groupage arrangements for supplies going into Northern Ireland which need export health certificates.

The new guidance allows for individual pallets to be certified by vets and then sealed rather than requiring the entire trailers to be certified and sealed.

In the letter Burnett says the guidance was drafted after “limited engagement” and feedback from the industry and operators and falls “well short” of addressing the many issues faced by traders, hauliers, manufacturers and consumers.

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It suggests officials were “more focused on delivering something rather than addressing the issues and delivering a process that works”.

The new guidance has “not been stress tested”, Burnett says, and “fails to consider the impact on suppliers” who have to develop bespoke processes within their own businesses.

It also fails to address the “complexity and overly bureaucratic requirements” which Burnett argues are designed for external rather than internal trade within the UK. Nor does it recognise the shortage of vets, he adds.

Burnett states: “The result will be considerable extra costs for suppliers, hauliers and delays and disruption to finely balanced and integrated supply chains as the model necessitates 100% compliance with no exceptions.”

He also urges Gove to work with industry to resolve customs intermediary shortages, warning that reports from members indicate that loads to the EU have reduced by as much as 68%.