// Road Haulage Association warns that retailers could cut back on shipping to Ireland if checks created by Brexit cause delays
// It said Scottish producers may struggle to get time-sensitive goods to mainland Europe quickly enough
Large retailers could cut back on shipping to Ireland if checks created by Brexit cause delays, hauliers have warned.
Martin Reid, the Road Haulage Association’s (RHA) director for Scotland and Northern Ireland, said it was “crazy” that industries are still in the dark about the nature of customs checks.
He said the situation at the port of Cairnryan in Dumfries and Galloway, where many goods are transferred between Scotland and Northern Ireland, is unclear whether or not a Brexit deal is struck.
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Reid told PA Wires that Scottish producers may struggle to get time-sensitive goods to mainland Europe quickly enough.
For example, shellfish caught in the Highlands may even have to be dumped if it cannot get to a crucial market in France on time, he said.
Discussing Cairnryan, Reid said: “Although we got some announcements on the Northern Ireland protocol [late last week], the minutia and the detail are still to be decided, there’s still more to come.
“On one hand we’ve heard that some major retailers will scale back movements to Ireland.
“We’ve heard of one in particular who may not go near it for the first three months of the year.
“We’ve also heard contrary stories that it could increase the volume.”
He said the Scottish Government was working on contingency plans in case lorries had to “stack” at Cairnryan.
“As an industry we’re looking to plan ahead but there’s so many unknowns it becomes difficult,” Reid said.
He added it was still unclear exactly how lorries travelling from Scotland to Ireland via Northern Ireland will be checked.
The RHA director welcomed a recent announcement that there would be a six-month grace period before hauliers were required to have an international travel permit to move goods across countries.
However, regardless of whether there is a deal or a no-deal, Reid said the nature of the customs process was still unclear.
“We don’t know whether certain systems speak to other systems, we don’t know whether the government has the right levels of expertise in those areas,” he said.
“We don’t know any of these things and quite frankly it’s crazy that at a time when all the fine-tuning should be taking place some of the fundamentals are still not ready.”
Responding to the RHA, a UK Government spokeswoman said: “The UK Government is working closely with the Scottish Government and the port of Cairnryan to make the necessary preparations for the end of the transition period and beyond.
“The UK Government and Northern Ireland Executive have also developed helpful practical arrangements to simplify and streamline controls on agri-food goods.
“We have also launched our Trader Support Service and the Movement Assistance Scheme to back businesses.”
with PA Wires