My Department has maintained close contact with road haulage stakeholders including the Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA), the Freight Transport Association of Ireland (FTAI), IBEC, the Irish Exporters Association and the British-Irish Chambers of Commerce in the context of Brexit and continues to work with the industry representative bodies in order to keep hauliers and business informed of developments, in keeping with our long-established practice.
Most recently, two meetings, instigated by my Department, were held in late May with representatives of the FTAI and the IRHA respectively, to discuss Brexit and the whole-of-Government and importantly industry preparations as we approach 31 October. The readiness of the haulage sector, the introduction of additional customs controls and SPS checks East/West, and the temporary EU contingency Regulation aimed at ensuring basic road freight connectivity between the EU and UK were discussed.
My Department hosted a Brexit Freight Forum with key road transport and maritime stakeholders including haulage industry representative bodies on 21 January 2019. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine were also in attendance and addressed the Forum. My Department also previously held a similar Brexit Freight Forum in March 2018.
In February and also in March, my Department was represented at the Irish Retail Grocery and Distribution Sector Roundtable hosted by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and engagement with this sector, including haulage industry representatives, is continuing.
In March, my Department issued a comprehensive Brexit Communications Notice to all licensed international road haulage operators outlining the position on a range of transport issues which would arise in the event of a no-deal Brexit. This notice is published on my Department’s website and the information available online will continue to be updated to keep industry stakeholders informed of Brexit developments.
A very important development to note is that the EU has adopted Regulation (EU) 2019/501 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 March 2019, which will ensure the maintenance of basic road connectivity for road freight transport in the event of a no deal Brexit. This temporary measure, effective until 31 December 2019, allows UK hauliers to continue to access the EU on the basis that the UK gives reciprocal access to EU companies and operators. This Regulation is currently due to expire on 31 December and over the coming months, Ireland and other EU Member States will engage further with the Commission on this measure.
The Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) study into the implications of Brexit on the use of the landbridge, published in November 2018, estimated that approximately 150,000 Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) travel between Ireland and the continent via the landbridge each year. This would equate to a weekly average of approximately 2,880 HGVs moving between Ireland and the continent via the landbridge, although there can be peak times within each week, and also on a seasonal basis. A cross-departmental Landbridge Project Group, chaired by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, was established in October 2017 and has been working on measures aimed at ensuring the ongoing effective and efficient use of the landbridge post-Brexit, including the key Dover-Calais route. My Department is represented on this Group and engagement with our EU partners to find solutions to minimise the potential disruption to Irish hauliers’ access to and through the UK in the event of a no deal Brexit continues.
The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, along with other Government Departments, has emphasised the importance of stakeholders taking all necessary steps within their control to prepare for Brexit, including undertaking contingency planning to minimise the impact of Brexit on their operations. I would encourage road haulage operators to refer to the European Commission’s published Notices to Stakeholders in the field of road transport, the EU’s basic road connectivity contingency Regulation, the Brexit section on my Department’s website and gov.ie/Brexit.