Last reviewed 4 September 2020

Eight industry groups, including Logistics UK (formerly the Freight Transport Association (FTA)), have written to Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove raising doubts about preparations for the UK border at the end of the transition period.

Sarah Laouadi, European Policy Manager at Logistics UK, warned that lack of pace in some government preparations for the end of the Brexit transition period could put the UK’s interconnected supply chain at risk.

While some of the systems being developed to manage the flow of goods and border processes are making good progress, the industry is concerned that the new Smart Freight system — which will be used by every company involved in exporting goods to the EU — will not be ready in time for adequate testing and staff training.

“Despite the Government’s assertion that the Smart Freight software will be ready before 1 January 2021,” Ms Laouadi explained, “this timeline fails to take into account the time it will take for transport companies, their customers, subcontractors and customs intermediaries to agree and co-ordinate the necessary business processes at the right time to gain access to the border.”

The letter to Mr Gove, which has not been released, is reported to have sought an urgent roundtable meeting with him, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

“Without time to plan and implement new systems, the sector is being set up to fail at the start of the New Year, which is not what we expect or deserve,” Ms Laouadi concluded.

The letter has coincided with the publication of the Town and Country Planning (Border Facilities and Infrastructure) (EU Exit) (England) Special Development Order 2020 (SI 2020/928) by the Government.

Available at www.legislation.gov.uk, this gives powers to grant emergency planning permission for the Government to build temporary lorry parks in 29 local authority areas across England, without the need for local approval.

These include Devon, Dorset, Essex, Hull, Liverpool, Medway, Portsmouth, North East Lincolnshire and Thurrock.