Transport Select Committee launches freight and Brexit inquiry

Different businesses have different freight-related needs. For some, the timeliness of deliveries is crucial; for others, it’s the cost of moving freight. The arrangements for perishable goods will be different from raw materials for manufacturing or parts for assembly, for example.

Road haulage, maritime and aviation sectors may need to take different steps to prepare for the effects, and harness the opportunities, of Brexit. But there has been little published analysis of sector-specific freight needs. 

In a new inquiry launching on Friday, the Transport Committee is offering freight operators and their customers, the opportunity to specify these needs. Though the terms of reference are wide, the Committee hopes the sector will be also be forthcoming about the issues involved.

Although UK and EU negotiators have now agreed a Brexit transitional period to run until December 2020, the pressure is on to determine just what is required – and what can be delivered in the time available - for the smooth operation of freight in the longer term.

Launching the inquiry, the chair of the committee, Lilian Greenwood MP, said: “We’ve heard a lot about customs arrangements, border controls, tariffs and trade deals. But we haven’t heard enough about transport infrastructure, policy and regulatory implications affecting freight operators and their customers.”

She added: “While the agreement of a transitional period to December 2020 is welcome, there remains a great deal of uncertainty for UK freight operators and their customers.

“The implications of Brexit will vary across freight modes and types of freight.  We want the sector to tell us what’s worrying them. What is required to make this work?

“We want to cast our evidence-gathering net as wide as possible, then focus our attention on areas where government and industry actions will be most pressing, to prepare for both the challenges and opportunities of Brexit.”

The Transport Committee intends to examine the potential effects of Brexit on UK freight operations and assess the preparatory steps operators, their customers and the Government need to take.

The inquiry will not consider border and customs arrangements, trade deals or tariffs as these fall outside the Committee’s remit, but will look at the steps required to prepare for the challenges and opportunities of Brexit for UK freight, particularly through investment in transport infrastructure and changes to transport policy and regulation.

The Committee is particularly interested to receive written evidence addressing the following: 

the scale and nature of the challenges and opportunities Brexit will present to UK freight companies and their customers;
the adequacy of steps being taken by freight companies, their representative bodies, their customers and the Government in preparation for the challenges and opportunities of Brexit;
mode and/or sector-specific requirements for additional Government funding, or other changes to Government funding plans, particularly in relation to transport infrastructure, to support the needs of freight; and
any new arrangements needed for the licencing, regulation and training of operators and workers in the freight sector after Brexit (including the adequacy of measures set out in the Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Bill).

The closing date for written submissions via the inquiry page on the Committee’s webportal is Friday, June 8, 2018.

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