Let inland depots take the post-Brexit strain, says UKWA

February 12, 2020

Responding to the government’s plans to introduce import controls on EU goods at the UK’s border after the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December 2020 and its announced consultation on new freeports across the UK, Peter Ward UKWA CEO has called for taking control of legislation and allowing inland depots take the post-Brexit strain.

Significantly increased customs checks at UK ports are likely to impact on supply chains and drive up demand for more warehousing in a market that’s already close to full capacity. However, with the restrictions of EU legislation lifted, there’s a new opportunity to bring forward radical solutions, Peter Ward argues.

The government has confirmed plans to introduce import controls on EU goods at the UK’s border after the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December 2020, and speaking at a recent Border Delivery Group event attended by UKWA, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, also made it clear that the policy easements put in place to mitigate the risks of a ‘No Deal’ scenario are no longer on the table.

As soon as January next year this will require traders and their intermediaries to submit customs declarations and be liable to checks on various products that enter and leave the UK. UKWA has estimated that this will equate to more than 200 million additional UK customs declarations.

“There seems little doubt that the changes to the way we trade with the EU is going to have a significant impact on most supply chains. This scenario is far from frictionless,” Peter continues. “There will certainly be interruption of flow, which, to maintain equivalent lead times, is likely to be mitigated by companies holding additional inventory and accordingly demanding additional warehousing space. This is happening at a time when the market is almost at capacity as the industry recalibrates to accommodate the massive shift from high street retailing to online and ecommerce fulfilment.”

Whilst Britain is, in effect, gearing up for a ‘Hard Brexit’, UKWA has welcomed government plans to open new Freeports across the UK, particularly that Freeports could be located inland as well as adjacent to ports.

“The issues around new build warehousing are well documented, not least the time that it takes for real estate to come out of the ground, so while we’re fully aware of the challenges the new worldview will bring, we can also recognise the potential opportunities for our members and for the wider logistics community,” says Peter Ward.

“We’re calling on members and non-members alike, 3PLs, retailers as well as real estate developers and industrial agents to join with UKWA to develop an imaginative, coherent response to the government’s proposals”.


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