We need a Brexit that avoids chaos on every approach to every ferry port in Britain says RHA

28th March 2017

As the Prime Minister announces the triggering of Article 50 tomorrow, Richard Burnett, Chief Executive of the Road Haulage Association, has made an impassioned plea for the needs of the trucking industry to be centre stage in Brexit negotiations.

“The trucking industry is the life blood of the UK economy.  We literally deliver our economy, with 85% of everything we eat, drink, wear or build with travelling by truck. 

“For the good of the UK economy the government must achieve a Brexit outcome that guarantees frictionless movements through ports and across borders, a level playing field for UK truckers to compete with those based on the continent, and a continuing ability to recruit foreign drivers.

“Our ferry ports, and the border in Ireland, need to have arrangements that allow trucks to move freely away from border areas,” continued Richard Burnett. “Simply using current customs practices and applying them to UK/EU traffic risks delays of biblical proportions which would strangle growth and hurt the entire economy.  We risk the chaos of Operation Stack becoming the norm and being replicated on the approach to every ferry port in Britain.  A bad outcome for the UK road haulage industry will be a bad outcome for UK Plc.”

Leaving the EU poses a significant risk to supply chains that deal with exports and imports by road if new customs controls are inappropriately imposed at border points. It is paramount that the Government ensures that international road haulage moves quickly and reliably after the UK exits the EU.

Concluding, Richard Burnett said: “The Government and Customs need to appreciate the scale of the problem at our ferry ports. They need to work on the issue with creativity, with industry partners and with authorities in the EU to ensure we maintain our border effectively while allowing trade to move freely. 

The RHA has three priorities that need to become the Governments priorities for reliable haulage during negotiations:

  • Seamless customs through ports and borders (so that supply chains have a high level of reliability).
  • Unimpeded access for international road haulage operators in the UK and the EU (that is full access for UK and EU road operators transporting goods to, from and through the UK and the EU).
  • A system that allows lorry drivers to be recruited from outside the UK (including retaining current drivers from the EU, which we estimate to number 60,000).


Notes to Editors

  • Further information on RHA policy relating to Brexit can be found at www.rha.uk.net
  • At the Dover Straits alone, there are just under 4.5 million freight movements by goods vehicle each year. These trucks can carry multiple consignments, sometimes hundreds of consignments, each of which may require an individual customs entry on departure and arrival in the UK and in the EU.
  • There are currently no holding areas for trucks at border areas in the UK or the EU of sufficient size to handle customs formalities for trucks on departure or arrival.
  • The Road Haulage Association is the leading trade association representing road haulage and distribution companies who commercially operate HGVs. Our 7,000 members operating near to 100,000 HGVs nationally and internationally. Companies range in size from those working with a single truck to those with thousands of vehicles.
  • Largely taken for granted, these companies provide an essential service on which the people and businesses of the UK depend. The food we eat, the clothes we wear, the houses we live in and the places where we work all depend upon road haulage working to get goods to where they need to be.