Hauliers will have just three weeks to familiarise themselves with the new regulations for transporting goods into the EU from 1 January, it was revealed today.
The so-called “Hauliers’ handbook” had been due to be released at the beginning of November but will now be unveiled in full on 7 December.
Speaking to the Parliamentary Brexit committee this morning, Logistics UK director Elizabeth de Jong said that the earlier version was “not fit for purpose”.
“It couldn’t answer the fundamental question in sufficient clarity – what declarations and checks do I need for my journey?”, she told lawmakers.
An initial version of the document, which will provide freight drivers with a guide to the reams of red tape they will have to negotiate to drive goods into the EU, will be released next week.
But the full versions, with pictures of the documents required and checklists, will not be released for another month.
With only 50 days until the end of the transition period, de Jong said that there was still a “paucity of information available” for the industry.
The chief executive of the Road Haulage Association slammed the delay in publication as “completely avoidable”.
“It’s incredibly frustrating that with only 35 working days to go firms still don’t have all the information they need to move goods across borders from 1 January”, said Richard Burnett.
“We’re helping officials plug the gaps, but the continuing delays make it exceptionally difficult to prepare”.
The director general of the British International Freight Association, Robert Keen, added: “BIFA acknowledges that, of late, the government has increasingly been putting in place coping responses where it can.
“How effective they will be remains to be seen. But the delay in the delivery of the ‘hauliers handbook’ is not an isolated case.
“With less than two months to go to the end of the transition period, BIFA members are still waiting for the government to provide complete information and clarity on… the systems that will underpin those processes and assurance that those systems, which have yet to be tested, will actually work and be able to do what is necessary.”
De Jong also warned that infrastructure for custom checks at Larne and Warrenpoint harbours in Northern Ireland were still yet to be built.
Construction of inspection posts have “not yet started and will take up to six months to complete”.
De Jong’s comments, which were first reported by the Independent, come as the haulage industry faces the additional challenge of its traditionally busiest time of the year.
She said that the second national lockdown would impact the ability of firms to get ready for the changes on 1 January.
But a free trade deal, she added, would “just make everything so much easier” in terms of facilitating cross-border trade when the transition period expires.