It has emerged that disruption at ports across the country could be worse than the government had previously estimated. According to documents drawn up by the Department for Transport, as many as two-thirds of trucks exporting goods to the EU via some UK ports could be prevented from crossing the border.
The leaked documents suggest around two-thirds of vehicles arriving at ports in Liverpool, Holyhead and Portsmouth with the hope of crossing the border could be deemed “non-compliant”. “One hundred per cent of non-compliant vehicles will be turned away, which means the resulting flow rate is 29% at Holyhead, Heysham and Liverpool, and 32% at Portsmouth,” it says.
Although the documents did not set out how these checks would affect traffic near the ports, they did say that at Portsmouth, “local arrangements preventing HGVs that have been turned back from blocking inbound flow” would be needed to keep imports moving smoothly.
Moreover, at Dover, the documents estimate, disruption at the port could lead to queues of up to 8,500 vehicles, lasting for up to two days in the worst cases, according to DfT’s assessment. The Yellowhammer documents estimated the “flow rate” through Dover could drop to 40-60% of normal levels for up to three months.
Earlier this month, the former head of the government’s Border Planning Group also said that some disruption was likely even in a reasonable best-case scenario, with flow rates of around 70-80% through Dover. “But even in those circumstances, which seem just as unlikely as a reasonable worst case, you would still get delays,” Karen Wheeler told parliament’s Exiting the European Union Committee.
Responding to the leak, a DfT spokesperson said border disruption would be “limited” if trucks transporting goods to the EU ensure they have the right documents. “We have implemented a major campaign to ensure hauliers can take action to get ready and are able to operate and that trade can continue to move as freely as possible between the UK and Europe after Brexit,” the spokesperson said