The transport industry has breathed a sigh of relief after the government confirmed it would introduce new border controls in stages for EU goods imported into the UK, due to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.

However, the RHA said it was vital that our continental neighbours take a similar approach, or else plans for Operation Brock will have to be revisited.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove formally notified the EU that the UK would not accept nor seek any extension to the transition period.

But recognising the extent to which the current pandemic had hit businesses, Gove said new border controls would be introduced in three stages up until 1 July 2021.

From January, traders importing goods will need to prepare for basic customs requirements, such as keeping sufficient records of imports and there will be checks on controlled goods like alcohol and tobacco.

High risk live animal and plants will be subject to physical checks.

From April, all products of animal origin will require pre-notification and relevant health documentation and then from July 2021, traders moving all goods will have to make declarations at the point of importation and pay relevant tariffs.

FTA policy director Elizabeth de Jong said the logistics industry was “extremely grateful” for the measures to stage new trading arrangements.

“They have listened to our concerns and made allowances to enable our sector to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and plan effectively so that we can continue to trade effectively with Europe,” she said.

The RHA also welcomed the move, but chief executive Richard Burnett cautioned that it was “only one side of the story.”

He said: "Although welcoming the government’s sensible and pragmatic approach, the RHA says it’s vital that the EU takes the same approach.

“At the moment our sense is that they’re stonewalling.

“They’re playing the same tactics as before and that means that we’ll have to prepare for a no-deal free trade agreement.

“We’ll also have to revisit plans such as Operation Brock to park trucks up in Kent, just in case we have to adhere to a complete customs process on the other side.

“The six-month relaxation, as we see it at the moment, will provide more time for businesses to prepare. The past few months have clearly shown that we have been able to maintain imports but the big issue is preparing UK businesses to be able to export.”