Bank holiday traffic queues could become the norm post-Brexit, says FTA

Friday 26 May 2017

Bank holiday-style traffic queues could become an everyday occurrence around Britain’s ports and airports after Brexit, says the Freight Transport Association, unless the government prioritises the needs of freight and logistics companies as part of the UK’s negotiations with the European Union. 

“Without giving due consideration to the freight industry and its needs, trade between the UK and Europe will suffer,” says Pauline Bastidon, FTA’s Head of European Policy.  “The nation’s existing supply chains rely on swift, simple transits across borders, and the introduction of more checks at the borders will cause delays in ports, which will have huge ramifications for traffic across the country, not just those in the immediate vicinity of our ports and airports.”

With Britain’s freight industry transporting more than £1 trillion-worth of goods, much of it time sensitive, changing the import and export procedures involved could have a significant impact on traffic movements in the immediate vicinity of the points of arrival, and across the country which will, in turn, affect supplies to businesses and, potentially, the price of goods for the consumer.

“Take the port of Dover as an example,” continues Ms Bastidon.  “More than 2.5 million lorries travel through the terminal every year – up to 10,000 every day, and currently there is minimal disruption to vehicle users in the immediate vicinity of the port.  However, if the implementation of additional customs checks at the UK’s border cause unforeseen delays, the port estimates that tailbacks through the town, and onto the UK’s motorway network could grow at a rate of 10km per hour. 

“At busy times of year, such as bank holidays and peak summer travel weekends, these tailbacks could form even faster around all our ports and airports that handle goods coming from the EU – not just at Dover.  This will add a significant amount to journey times for all road users, not just freight operators and have a potentially catastrophic impact on the British transport network.”

To ensure that this situation does not become a reality, FTA is calling for government to ensure that trade and logistics arrangements are at the heart of any Brexit negotiations, and vehicle checks are avoided at airports and ports.  Customs systems and procedures will need to be upgraded, to ensure that the UK’s border staff are capable of handling up to 300 million additional annual declarations.  Trade simplification will need to be at the core of the future agreement with the EU and FTA’s members want to see simplifications replicated by European customs administrations to avoid border delays.  And above all, Ms Bastidon continues, a smooth transition and implementation period will be essential:

“The UK has been subject to the EU’s procedures for the past 26 years.  Industry and authorities alike – on both sides of the border - will need time to adjust to new systems and procedures.  Our members are committed to ensuring that Britain keeps on trading efficiently with its biggest commercial partner – the EU – and we are asking the government to give freight and logistics the priority it deserves to ensure the industry can maintain its current levels of efficiency.  Otherwise, there will be delays and tailbacks on the nation’s roads – something which we and our members believe is avoidable, with the correct planning in place. We stand ready to work on concrete solutions with Government and officials after the General Election.”


FTA Press Office

01892 552255