DfT to launch consultation to keep trucks moving in Kent in 2021

Dover, UK: The Department for Transport is launching a three-week consultation period on traffic management proposals for outbound trucks in Kent after the EU transition period, including plans to reactivate and extend Operation Brock.

The DfT says on its website: “After the EU transition period ends, the EU will impose new controls on goods arriving from Great Britain potentially causing disruption to heavy commercial vehicles (HCV) traffic moving through the Port of Dover, Eurotunnel and the Short Straits Channel crossing.

“In 2019, when facing a similar problem and with the help of Kent Resilience Forum we implemented Operation Brock to manage HCV traffic and deal with any potential disruptions.

As part of the proposals, a new online system called the Smart Freight Service will enable checks to be completed outside Kent. The consultation will look at updating road layouts “to reflect potential changes to the Operation Brock plans”.

The DfT will also be suggesting extra options for supporting HCV traffic management in Kent.

Logistics UK (formerly FTA) says that it is “disappointing to see that the government is expecting significant friction at the border with the EU, after the logistics industry had been given previous reassurances that friction would be minimised”.

Chris Yarsley, policy manager for road infrastructure at Logistics UK, said: “Our members are dismayed that the onus for compliance will be placed on drivers themselves, leaving them personally liable for a fine if they do not comply with the new rules.  The current proposals create an internal UK border by introducing Kent Access Permits, adding more red tape to the work which hauliers will be obliged to comply with.

“We are pleased to see the focus on upstream compliance, with pre-checks performed before the start of the journey. When fully implemented, the new Smart Freight system (SFS) should help to keep traffic moving through Kent: to ensure this happens, it is vital that the UK government works with its EU counterparts to ensure all the border systems are joined-up.

“It is unclear when the Smart Freight system will be ready and available for testing – our members will need to see and learn the new system in order to have confidence in it.  Having enough time to adjust to the new Smart Freight System is vital – especially with planning for the Christmas season about to start – so government needs to provide reassurance that the system will be available and ready to use on 1 January 2021.

“We need government’s assistance to ensure logistics vehicles can continue to move smoothly into and out of the EU.  The current proposals leave too many questions unanswered and very little time available in which to identify and implement solutions to keep the country trading.”

Hauliers will be forced to file information electronically and receive approval from the tax authorities before being allowed to travel toward the UK-EU border.

However, the government has suggested that UK truck drivers taking goods to the European Union after Brexit could face fines if they fail to comply with the new Smart Freight System.

In its 206-page document The Border with the European Union, it states: “One option could be to fine HGV drivers in Kent who had not used the SFS, or who had travelled in contravention of advice from SFS not to travel to the port.

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