Have you thought about trialling direct shipping routes to mainland Europe?
14th December 2020
Jonathan English, Strategic Projects, Bord Bia – The Irish Food Board
Moving goods through the UK landbridge to reach markets in mainland Europe has been seen as the most viable option considering the time-sensitivity of certain agri-food products. Using this route will change forever when the Transition Period ends on the 31st of December and new rules, including customs formalities and documentation checks, will likely add cost to your businesses as well as add significant delays.
Delays are likely to result for goods entering the ports and Eurotunnel in Kent before travelling to France. As my colleague Cian Hassett covered in a previous Food Alert, the UK government will introduce the ‘Check a HGV is ready to cross the border’ service for Ro/Ro traffic to ensure hauliers are carrying the right documentation. This service will issue a Kent Access Permit (KAP) for each HGV as long as the correct information is provided. Access to key roads leading to the Eurotunnel or the port at Dover will be prohibited to drivers unless they have a KAP which can cause delays. Drivers could be fined up to be fined up to £300. Paperwork will need to be provided to avoid this risk and minimise delays.
If I want to avoid using the UK landbridge, what are my options?
The Irish Government and State Agencies have increased their efforts in communicating with food and drink businesses to approach shipping companies in relation to direct routes, both RoRo and LoLo, to the continent. Companies need to assess their supply chain and determine if it is viable to use direct routes rather transiting the UK. Going direct may take longer than usual but it will avoid all the documentation and checks that will be required when using the landbridge. Companies should consider making the change to shipping goods directly to mainland Europe if it does not impact their supply chain significantly. If the pros outweigh the cons, trialling the services that are already available in the coming weeks will be useful.
For more information on shipping schedules and routes, check out the Brexit Action Plan Supply Chain chapter. It also outlines relevant government support to help you decide if your business should trial these direct route services.