Friday, 6 September 2019

Ceisteanna (1630)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

1630. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the supports being provided to the haulage sector to prepare for Brexit; his plans to implement additional measures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36489/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

My Department has maintained close contact with road haulage stakeholders in the context of Brexit and continues to work with the industry representative bodies to keep hauliers and business informed of developments, in keeping with our long-established practice. My officials held meetings in May, July and August with representatives of Freight Transport Association Ireland and the Irish Road Haulage Association to discuss Brexit and the whole-of-Government preparations and, importantly, industry preparations. I addressed an FTAI event on 29 August and emphasised the ongoing need for the transport and logistics sector to prepare for Brexit.

My Department hosted a Brexit Freight Forum with key road transport and maritime stakeholders including haulage industry representative bodies in January of this year. 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. In February and March of this year, my Department was represented at the Irish Retail Grocery and Distribution Sector Roundtable events 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 in my Department’s area of www.gov.ie and the information available online will continue to be updated to keep industry stakeholders informed of Brexit developments.

A very important development is 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, allowing UK operators to continue to access the EU on the basis that the UK gives reciprocal access to EU operators. In a Brexit preparedness communication dated 04/09/2019 the Commission has proposed to extend the period of application of this Regulation until 31/07/2020.

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. 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 continues 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. The IMDO hosted a workshop on 4 September 2019 to discuss maritime connectivity in the context of Brexit, and the Irish Road Haulage Association and Freight Transport Association Ireland were invited to this event, along with shipping companies, ports authorities, and importers/exporters.

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) has a range of supports available to business including the freight and logistic sector and details can be found on their website www.dbei.gov.ie.

My Department, 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 and the section titled “Brexit and Transport – What You Need to Know” in my Department’s area of www.gov.ie.