Well, it has happened – Article 50 has been triggered and the UK is now on the long and winding road leading to the exit from Europe. The great unknown awaits. Depending on which side of the fence you are sitting, it’s good news or bad news. But what we in the industry want to know, how does it affect us?
As negotiations about leaving begin, Richard Burnett, Chief Executive of the Road Haulage Association, has made an impassioned plea for the needs of the trucking industry to be centre stage, saying that the trucking industry is the life blood of the UK economy. “We literally deliver our economy, with 85% of everything we eat, drink, wear or build with travelling by truck.,” he says.
“For the good of the UK economy the government must achieve a Brexit outcome that guarantees frictionless movements through ports and across borders, a level playing field for UK truckers to compete with those based on the continent, and a continuing ability to recruit foreign drivers.
“Our ferry ports, and the border in Ireland, need to have arrangements that allow trucks to move freely away from border areas. Simply using current customs practices and applying them to UK/EU traffic risks delays of biblical proportions which would strangle growth and hurt the entire economy. We risk the chaos of Operation Stack becoming the norm and being replicated on the approach to every ferry port in Britain. A bad outcome for the UK road haulage industry will be a bad outcome for UK Plc.”
In the meantime, everyday life goes on. News that improvement work can now proceed for the A6 between Belfast and L’Derry is clearly a welcome boost, especially for the haulage industry. As Seamus Leheny, the FTA’s Policy Manager for Northern Ireland, says, the news means work can now commence on upgrading this antiquated stretch of the road network, to ensure that another piece of the A6 jigsaw is completed. Goods will have improved journey time reliability, something that has held back businesses in the affected region in the past and has been proved unattractive to potential inward investment.
To other matters now: in this issue, we have lots of positive stories to tell as businesses continue to invest in the future despite the uncertainties of Brexit and the ongoing difficulties at Stormont.
Apart from all our usual features, we also have our annual guide to shipping, as well as a look forward to the Commercal Vehicle Show at the NEC in Birmingham which sees the return of all the leading truck manufacture.
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