UK prepares network of lorry parks for potential Brexit freight chaos
With the UK just three months away from its full separation from the European Union from 1 January, the UK government has given itself sweeping powers to build lorry parks in up to 29 parts of the UK in order to deal with the additional checks required after Brexit and much-feared chaotic queues of road freight and other vehicles to and from UK ports.
Bloomberg reports that the government will be able to start construction in 29 different council areas without the approval of local officials, according to a statutory instrument laid before Parliament last week. The areas included stretch from Devon and Somerset to Warwickshire and Suffolk, it said.
The government has already started constructing holding facilities for lorries in Kent that will be used to park goods vehicles that may lack the correct paperwork to take good into the EU after the UK exits its Transition Period from the EU on 31 December.
The holding areas are said to be a key part of Britain’s plans to avoid border delays from 1 January, when full customs controls will be imposed on goods traveling from the UK – whether or not the UK reaches a trade deal with the EU.
According to an explanatory note accompanying the legislative instrument, the order “grants temporary planning permission for development consisting of the use of land for the stationing and processing of vehicles (particularly goods vehicles) entering or leaving Great Britain”.
In response to the emergency legislation, to allow for the allocation of a reported 29 potential sites for lorry parks across the UK, Chris Yarsley, Logistics UK’s policy manager for road infrastructure, commented: “Logistics UK supports the development of suitable infrastructure to assist with border readiness; these sites are essential to keep disruption on the UK’s roads to a minimum post-transition period, and for keeping trade moving as smoothly as possible across borders. We have been urging the government to ensure that drivers will have access to facilities, such as toilets and showers, if they are to be held in place for some time and are therefore pleased to see that the Order includes a provision for welfare facilities.
“However, we urge the government to ensure that the sites are placed in appropriate locations – close to road networks and fully accessible for commercial vehicles; for example, they should be placed away from unsuitable roads and low bridges. And while the lorry parks are likely to be a temporary solution as new systems, processes and demands are embedded post-Brexit, it is important that the authorities remain mindful of local businesses and residents, with road disruption to be kept to a minimum.
“Logistics UK is also calling on the government to ensure that the sites are staffed with qualified officials who have the means and the authority to get a vehicle border ready if the driver does not have the full paperwork required; this will be essential to keep traffic moving as quickly as possible and protecting supply chains from further disruption.”
Logistics UK is one of eleven logistics organisations that last 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 1 January.
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