Traffic across the Channel could be almost halved in January causing 7000-strong truck queues at Dover port, lasting two days, according to leaked Brexit planning scenarios.
The worst-case scenario outlined in confidential government documents suggested that the flow of traffic between Dover and Calais could be reduced by 60 – 80 per cent if hauliers fail to prepare for new border check protocols following the end of the transition period on 31 December this year.
The document fears that 30 – 50 per cent of hauliers will not be ready for January 1 when Britain will exit the EU customs and trading arrangements.
According to The Guardian Brexit minister Michael Gove wrote a letter to logistics firms saying: “This could lead to maximum queues of 7,000 port-bound trucks in Kent and associated maximum delays of up to two days.”
In his letter, Gove added: “Irrespective of the outcome of negotiations between the UK and EU, traders will face new customs controls and processes. Simply put, if traders, both in the UK and EU, have not completed the right paperwork, their goods will be stopped when entering the EU and disruption will occur.
“It is essential that traders act now and get ready for new formalities.”
The leak of the worst case scenarios comes after the Road Haulage Association described meetings with Michael Gove about plans for the border post-Brexit “a washout”.
Meanwhile, Logistics UK greeted news that new “SMART Freight” system -intended for use at the border after Brexit - will not be ready for January, as a “crushing disappointment” and a “massive blow” to logistics businesses.
“We’ve been consistently warning the government there will be delays at ports but they’re just not engaging with industry on coming up with solutions,” said chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, Richard Burnett.
“Traders need 50,000 more customs intermediaries to handle the mountain of new paperwork after transition but government support to recruit and train those extra people is woefully inadequate.
“The answers to the questions that we raised in our letter to Mr Gove and subsequent roundtable meeting last Thursday still remain unanswered – and our concern continues to grow.”