Ferry firms express “no-deal” Brexit concerns

Published: 22 July 2019

Ferry firms express “no-deal” Brexit concerns
Ferry companies who cross the English Channel on a regular basis have described their worries and the gridlock the route could face – along with general British ports as lorries might not be allowed to board the ferries across to France, unless they have all of the appropriate paperwork to hand to authorize travel to their destination.

“We cannot take lorries across that cannot enter the country” one firm said on Newsnight.

A majority of companies have yet to collect the documents they require, or even be made fully aware of the requirements that will need to be matched in a no-deal Brexit situation. DfT spoke on the matter saying a plan is in place to tackle the situation should a no-deal Brexit arise and cause any problems for truckers across the nation.

Speaking on behalf of DFDS, who transport over a million lorries across the channel on a yearly basis, Gert Jakobson stated:"If a truck doesn't have the right document we cannot board him. We cannot take lorries across that cannot enter the country,"

"For a period of time, for a few weeks and months, we assume the problems will be bigger. There will be more who are not yet accustomed to the paperwork. There will be a learning curve and then we believe it will work much better," Jakobsen continued.

Port Boulogne Calais also responded on the matter, speaking on their behalf was President and Chief Eexecutive, Jean Marc Puissessau: “if hauliers don’t have documents they won’t be allowed to board. This was the rule on 29 March. Those same rules will apply on 31 October.”

The DfT also shared their perspective: "There are well-developed plans in place to manage any traffic disruption in Kent in the event of a no deal scenario, keeping the M20 open with traffic continuing to flow in both directions. The government remains focused on ensuring the UK's smooth and orderly withdrawal from the EU."

Up until recently, many of the ports were trying to settle concerns many drivers felt regarding a no-deal Brexit and the consequences it could have for hauliers on an international scale. With the given updates, many of the public concerns are warranted.

Dover Harbour Board CEO Doug Bannister stated: "The Port of Dover, as with our sister ports in France and our ferry partners, are prepared for the 31st of October."
For French ports, Mr Puissesseau said “There will be no delay”, with customs facilities recently developed holding pens at French ports – making it clear that vehicles being checked for documentation will not create cause for major delays in and out of the port come October 31st.

Last week, Chancellor Philip Hammond expressed worries that France could move any concerns or issues they might face to the UK’s ports.

"Many of the levers are held by others — the EU 27 or private business. We can seek to persuade them but we can't control it. For example, we can make sure that goods flow inwards through the port of Dover without any friction but we can't control the outward flow into the port of Calais," Hammond said while on Panorama.
Considering on a daily basis, over ten thousand HGVs move through Dover – with 17% of the country’s goods, movement across the Channel is said to be worth more than £120bn for the economy.
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