With Brexit fast approaching, workers in every sector of the economy are starting to ask what will happen in the aftermath. The uncertainty is especially bad for anyone doing haulage work. The job can be stressful enough already, with its long and irregular hours and the last thing drivers need on top of that is doubt – especially when so many UK hauliers need frequent easy access to the Continent to get the job done.
But don’t panic. While much is still up in the air about leaving the EU, moves are being made to protect businesses and workers. The Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Act (HPTRA) is just one of these, aiming to ensure that as little as possible will change for the transport industry once we leave the EU.
The Best-Case Scenario
British negotiators have been working hard to secure a deal for more than two years now, and will keep pushing for the best possible terms they can get. Haulage work has been described by transport secretary Chris Grayling as being ‘at the heart of our trading relationship with the EU’ – a key cornerstone for both the UK and EU economies. The government sees this as a good thing for negotiations. In short, because the industry is so important to both sides, neither the UK nor the EU wants to risk it.
Transport companies and workers have reasons to be optimistic, then. After all, Brexit won’t make Europe any further away or harder to access. There are, as far as we know, no plans in place to collapse the Channel Tunnel or close the port of Dover. Grayling and the government remain ‘confident’ that current access will be maintained.
The Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Act
But, as we noted above, nothing is certain. The negotiations are still going on, and while it’s unlikely that transport links will be physically closed, legal barriers to travel and access could still be put up. The government feels this is unlikely, but it pays to be prepared.
For this reason, they passed the HPTRA, which provides a framework for dealing with any legal issues that could arise concerning haulage work. The act covers a lot of ground in some quite complex language but, in simple terms, it outlines a structure for issuing permits that would allow drivers to use EU roads for business, and a separate plan for trailer registration.
According to the transport secretary, the HPTRA ensures the UK government has powers in place to deal with any permit system that may be required after exiting the EU.
Overall, the government seems confident that it can maintain EU road access largely unchanged after Brexit. At the same time, it acknowledges uncertainty, and the HPTRA tries to minimise the effects of that uncertainty by ensuring businesses, drivers and anyone else engaged in haulage work can transition smoothly to a new relationship with the EU.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching haulage work with available drivers. Over 5,400 member companies are networked together through the Exchange to fill empty capacity, get new clients and form long-lasting business relationships.