Brexit: UK building Brexit lorry parks ahead of border chaos in 2021
- Boris Johnson’s UK government is preparing to build lorry parks in 29 sites across England.
- Ministers are bracing the country for severe disruption at the end of the Brexit transition period.
- From January 1, lorry drivers will need to complete customs declarations before entering the EU.
- Eleven logistics wrote to Michael Gove demanding an urgent meeting to discuss Brexit preparation.
- Trade bodies warned that the deadline had passed to produce labelling to legally export food.
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The UK is preparing to build lorry parks in up to 29 parts of the UK in order to deal with the additional checks required after Brexit.
Boris Johnson’s government on Thursday changed the law to give itself the authority to grant emergency planning permission for “temporary” lorry parks across the country, Bloomberg reported.
Britain will leave the EU’s single market and customs union at the end of 2020, meaning that from January 2021 lorry drivers heading to the continent will need to complete customs declarations before being able to cross the channel.
The UK government expects that it will take hauliers several weeks to adapt to the new checks, meaning some lorry drivers will attempt to head to the EU without the correct paperwork.
In an attempt to avoid chaos at the border and long queues on England’s motorways, the government is already building lorry parks on sites nationwide, where lorry drivers without the correct paperwork will be held.
Work has already started on a lorry park in Ashford, Kent, twenty-five miles from the port of Dover, with other potential sites including Liverpool and Salford in the northwest, Hull in the northeast, and areas on the south coast like Dover and Portsmouth.
Johnson’s government faces a race against time to prepare Britain for an array of new checks and trade barriers with its biggest trading partner once the Brexit transition period comes to an end — with or without a new free trade agreement with EU.
Eleven logistics companies this week wrote to Michael Gove, chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, demanding an urgent meeting with him and Rishi Sunak, the chancellor of the exchequer, amid growing concern within the logistics industry that Britain’s borders will not be ready in time for January 1, The Financial Times reported.
“Our concern is so strong that we have collectively agreed to request an urgent roundtable meeting with yourself, the chancellor of the exchequer and secretary of state for transport,” they wrote to Gove.
In a separate document leaked to Bloomberg, government officials warned Gove, who is overseeing UK Brexit preparation, that there was “critical gaps” in plans to prepare borders and businesses for the end of the transition period, particularly crucial IT systems that will handle the movement of lorries to and from the EU.
This followed a letter from UK Trade Secretary Liz Truss to Gove and Sunak in July, leaked to Business Insider, in which she expressed her concern that Britain’s ports would not be ready to carry out full checks on imports, creating the risk of smuggling into the UK.
Asked about the letter at the time, Gove categorically said that Britain’s borders would be ready for the end of the Brexit transition period.
Business Insider reported on Thursday that Britain’s food industry had warned the UK government that the deadline for producing new labels needed to legally sell food to the EU and Northern Ireland from next year had passed.
Multiple trade associations told Business Insider that they were still waiting for government guidance on what packaging they would need to use for food exports in just four month’s time. Industry sources fear there could be food shortages in Northern Ireland if British exporters do not have the correct labelling to move food across the Irish Sea.
UK and EU negotiators will hold formal talks over a free trade deal in London next week amid reports that figures in Downing Street believe the chances of a deal being agreed before the autumn deadline are now less than 50%.
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