UK logistics industry to prepare for strict post-Brexit border controls

Speaking to representatives of lobby groups including the Freight Transport Association and British International Freight Association in London in September, U.K. Cabinet Minister Michael Gove warned them to prepare for strict border controls between Britain and the European Union after Brexit, raising concern that trade will be disrupted.

Eight such groups have this week called for an “urgent roundtable meeting” with Gove, and with Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

“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 in a letter to Gove obtained by the Financial Times.

In the letter, the groups raised concerns over the pace of physical infrastructure being built at the border, funding to train customs agents and IT systems.

“We are asking you to take seriously our concerns and listen to the detail during this roundtable so that we can collectively help government manage through this enormous challenge,” the letter said.

A leaked Cabinet Office memo reported by Bloomberg yesterday said that ministers are asking hauliers and industry groups for help to avoid chaos at the border when the Brexit transition period ends on December 31st.

The memo warns there are “critical gaps” in the government’s preparations and some parts of its plans are “unmanageable”.

This comes as the British government gave itself powers to grant emergency planning permission for it to build temporary lorry parks and inspection posts in 29 councils areas across England, without the need for local approval.

The government said the lorry parks, which can stay in place until the end of 2025, would contribute to "an orderly transition to the new system of controls to secure the border" and would help address the impact coronavirus may have had on port operators' ability to provide the necessary infrastructure themselves, in time for the end of the transition period.

Previous trials of the lorry park concept, in January 2019, were described at the time as "too little, too late."

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