The transport secretary promised industry leaders last week that he is working hard to address the chronic shortfall in European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) permits, which are vital to hauliers in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Chris Grayling hosted the RHA, FTA, BVLRA, Kuehne + Nagel, Wincanton and Malcolm Group amongst others, at an event at 10 Downing Street on 7 December.

He told industry representatives he was working hard to turn on bilateral agreements with other EU member states quickly in the event of the UK crashing out of the EU next March.

Hauliers are currently racing to grab a share of the permits that will allow them to continue to operate in Europe in the event of a no-deal Brexit outcome.

Bidding kicked off last month (26 November) with just 984 annual ECMT permits on offer. Hauliers will not be able to travel in Europe without the permits in their trucks on a per vehicle basis, if the UK crashes out of Europe.

The RHA has estimated 38,000-plus UK-registered trucks currently ply between the UK and the EU and that more than 95% will not qualify for an ECMT permit. The DfT has simply stated that demand will “significantly exceed supply”.

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The RHA also raised concerns with Grayling at the meeting that HMRC are yet to reveal the detail around how a customs process and required checks at the borders would work in the event of a no deal.

“Mr Grayling was shocked that HMRC had not shared the detail,” said Richard Burnett, chief executive of the RHA.

rha richard burnett

Richard Burnett, chief executive, RHA

Burnett also criticised the government’s communication around Brexit and the road haulage industry to date. “They still have not clarified the process, so how can businesses gear up?” he said.

He added that even UK-only hauliers shouldn’t “kid yourself that it [the situation with the permits and checks] won’t affect you”.

Burnett said any slowing of the volume coming through locations such as Dover will have a knock on effect to UK hauliers effectively performing secondary distribution. “If we don’t have the same volume, that will mean job losses,” he said.

Burnett added that a transition period for hauliers remained key – irrespective of the deal struck with the EU - and that without it the transport sector would “drop off a cliff” as too little groundwork has been done.

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