Haulage firms ‘horrified’ at plans to relax rules on overseas HGV drivers

Business

The government wants to change how frequently overseas HGV operators can deliver in the UK to help solve the current supply chain problems.

A consultation on extending “cabotage” rights will be launched on Friday to try to shore up supply chains and prevent shops running out of goods or increasing prices due to an HGV driver shortage.

Cabotage are the rules around goods or passenger transport in a country by a transport operator from a different country.

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Currently, the rules mean HGV drivers from the EU can only make up to two trips between two places in the UK within a week.

But the new plan would allow overseas operators to collect and deliver goods an unlimited number of times over a fortnight before they return to their country of origin.

If the proposal is approved after the week-long consultation, the change would come into force before the end of the year and last for six months.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The long-term answer to the supply chain issues we’re currently experiencing must be developing a high-skill, high-wage economy here in the UK.

More on Hgv Drivers

“Alongside a raft of other measures to help the road haulage industry, we’ve streamlined the testing process and announced thousands of skills boot camps to train new drivers.

“These new measures are working – we’ve been seeing up to three times more applications for HGV driving licences than normal as well as a deserved rise in salaries.

“The temporary changes we’re consulting on to cabotage rules will also make sure foreign hauliers in the UK can use their time effectively and get more goods moving in the supply chain at a time of high demand.”

Thousands of shipping containers at the Port of Felixstowe in Suffolk, as shipping giant Maersk has said it is diverting vessels away from UK ports to unload elsewhere in Europe because of a build-up of cargo. Picture date: Wednesday October 13, 2021.
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Shipping giant Maersk has said it is diverting vessels away from Felixstowe due to the build-up of cargo

The government said the changes would apply to all types of goods but would be “particularly beneficial” to food supply chains and imports arriving from ports.

Retailers have warned the ongoing supply chain problems will result in higher prices and empty shelves for Christmas.

Shipping company Maersk has diverted vessels away from Felixstowe due to a build-up of cargo, and similar blockages have been seen around the world, including in the US.

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