Britain steps up haulage preparations for busiest trade route post-Brexit

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain said on Thursday it would bring in legislation to try to minimise major delays and disruption at one of its busiest trade routes when it fully leaves the European Union.

In September, the government said there could be queues of 7,000 trucks in southeast England waiting to travel to Europe if businesses failed to get the right paperwork in place.

The government said it would now bring forward legislation to enforce Operation Brock, its strategy for managing traffic flow heading to and from the port of Dover in Kent, and providing holding parking spaces for thousands of trucks if needed.

Under the rules, heavy goods vehicles will need to obtain a digital Kent Access Permit before they enter the county or face a fine of 300 pounds, to enable the smooth flow of traffic onwards to the Channel Tunnel and Dover from where trucks travel into France and the European Union.

With just over two months until the end of the transition period, it is not yet clear what sort of relationship Britain and the EU will have from January.

The two sides are due to resume talks later on Thursday, marking a new push to regulate billions of dollars worth of trade.

The government said it was also launching a communications campaign to help hauliers prepare for the changes and would set up dozens of information sites across Britain to offer assistance.

Truckers should also apply for a European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) permit as a precautionary measure, the government added, as these will be needed if there is no new trading relationship agreed.

“By putting in place these plans we’re ensuring Kent keeps moving, our fantastic haulage industry is supported, and trade continues to flow,” Transport Minister Grant Shapps said in a statement.

Lorries carrying time-sensitive exports such as fresh and live seafood and day-old chicks will be prioritised at the border, added the government.

Dover handles 17 percent of the United Kingdom’s goods trade. Up to 10,000 trucks a day pass through with everything from perishable food to medicines.

Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Angus MacSwan