Business group Logistics UK says it recognises the need for the Government to relax temporarily the road haulage cabotage rules but say that this will lead to more foreign lorries parking up in lay-bys.
The organisation says that the system under which overseas hauliers can transport goods between two places in the UK after completing their initial journey but will force more HGV drivers to park up overnight.
James Firth, the organisation’s head of road freight regulation policy, said: “Our members supported a temporary, limited extension to the system as this will mitigate some of the impact caused by the current driver shortage for the supply chain.
“The breathing space provided by the extension will enable British drivers to be recruited, trained and tested.
“Logistics UK’s priority is supply chain resilience, and that we keep Britain trading.”
Overseas drivers to work in the UK
The length of time permitted for overseas drivers to work for hire or reward in the UK is an area of concern for Logistics UK.
Mr Firth continued: “During the consultation on the new plans, Logistics UK asked that the period of cabotage be for seven, not 14, days.
“By allowing non-UK hauliers to work in the UK for 14 days, the drivers’ legally mandated weekly rest will need to be taken in the UK.
“This will increase pressure on the existing allocation of HGV parking spaces, which the government itself assesses as being at least 1,400 spaces short and will lead to more drivers being forced to sleep overnight on the sides of roads or in insecure locations.”
He added: “It is also vital that the temporary nature of this extension is adhered to, to ensure competition from non-UK businesses has a minimal impact on British haulage companies.
“We have received a commitment from the government that the arrangements will be reviewed after three months and that there will be increased monitoring and enforcement.”
Fuel duty freeze a boost for hauliers
Meanwhile, Logistics UK has welcomed the Budget announcement of a continued freeze on fuel duty will assist the logistics sector in its move to decarbonisation by 2050.
The organisation’s policy director, Elizabeth de Jong, said the announcement will enable businesses to make the switch to alternatively fuelled vehicles more smoothly.
She added: “The impact of the pandemic on the economy, and our industry, has made vehicle replacement planning particularly challenging.
“The logistics sector traditionally runs on extremely narrow margins, with limited amounts of money available for vehicle purchase – so the removal of uncertainty over fuel duty levels for another year will give our industry time to plan vehicle replacements more effectively.”
She said the freezing of HGV excise duty and the extension of the suspension of the HGV levy for a year will make the operation of vehicles more cost-effective – and the plan to spend more on road and rail infrastructure will help goods move smoothly.