Calais may be ready, but are traders?

Richard Burnett visited the port of Calais this to discuss Brexit preparation and review the infrastructure in place to manage lorries moving through the port.

“It is clear that the port has done almost everything it can to prepare itself for the introduction of border controls after Brexit” Richard said. “However, the entire system is dependent upon high levels of compliance with new processes throughout the supply chain.”

The infrastructure to handle lorries travelling into the EU is in place – clear “green” lanes for lorries approved to enter are all marked out. “Orange” lanes and parking areas for lorries needing to be checked are also in place.The plan is that any lorry arriving without confirmed border paperwork in place will be sent to the “orange” holding area for checks.

All lorries requiring non-customs checks (food for example) will be directed through orange lanes to complete inspections.

The day after the visit the port was going to run the first small test with several lorries on the processes in place for handling road freight movements.

“The problem that the port is dependent upon all other parts of the supply chain – the drivers, the customs agents, the traders – all being able to do their new paperwork requirements in advance of shipment so lorries can move as freely as possible.

“There are still gaps in knowledge about exactly what is needed for all movements.  There are not enough skilled people to process documentary requirements and it is impossible in the time available in the time available to have those resources in place”.

As the RHA has being saying for the last year, deal or no deal there needs to be a transition period. A period where business has at least several months, where business knows what will be needed by when, and where how to operate to cross a border is clear.

On the road network near the port there was some activity with new barriers starting to be installed, which may or may not be Brexit related.