Border Arrangements (Kent) (Britain from 1st Jan 2021)

On 13 July the Government published its Border Operating Model – I blog posted about it at the time.

It is the responsibility of the trader (or the trader’s agent, such as a customs agent or freight forwarder) to provide the necessary documentation to the HCV driver, and it is the HCV driver who must present the documentation at the EU ports.

Being border-ready means that an HCV driver is carrying all the necessary documentation to get through the GB and EU port (or has been provided with the appropriate information to get the documentation).

This includes:

• customs documentation:

• a master or movement reference number (MRN) from an import declaration if the goods are going to stay in the country of disembarkation (for example, goods going from GB to France), or a transit accompanying document if the goods are either staying in the country of disembarkation or going to move beyond it (for example, goods going from GB to Spain via France)

• an admission temporaire/temporary admission (ATA) carnet if the goods are temporarily going abroad (for example, goods going from GB to France and then back to GB)

• a transports internationaux routiers (TIR) carnet if goods are sealed and/or going to non-Common Transit Convention (CTC) member countries (for example, GB to India overland).

• import and export documentation depending on what goods are carried (it is possible that a free trade agreement or sectoral deal may change some of the requirements for import and export documentation). For example, EU member state authorities will check for the following on arrival at the EU port:

• products of animal origin require an export health certificate

• plant and plant-based products require a phytosanitary certificate

• fish require a catch certificate, export health certificate and where appropriate a captain’s certificate.

In addition, there may be other forms of import/export documentation that an HCV driver will need to carry on behalf of their trader which would not be checked at the ports. An HCV driver using the accompanied roll on roll off (RoRo) route would need a safety and security declaration before arriving in the EU. EU rules mean that they can be completed shortly before arriving in the EU.

Some EU member states have additional national requirements for goods arriving from GB, for example:

• France requires the use of the SI Brexit system, and the MRN barcodes for multiple consignments must be compiled in to a single ‘envelope’ MRN that will be scanned.

• the Netherlands and Belgium require that all movements are pre-notified using the Portbase and RXSeaport systems respectively; HCVs that are not pre-notified will not be allowed to leave Dutch or Belgian ports.

Disruption at the cross-Channel ports from 1 Jan 2021 is not inevitable, but it is a possibility for which the UK government is preparing.

Updated assessment of potential levels of disruption is ongoing, and the UK Government is now consulting on aspects of the Border Arrangements (Kent and the Short Straits) that will need to be in place from 1st Jan 2021.

The M20 Contraflow

In 2019, there was a permanent contraflow between Junctions 8 and 9 of the London-bound carriageway of the M20 with a steel barrier between lanes 1 and 2 of the northbound carriageway. That carriageway was reduced from three to two lanes with a speed limit of 50 miles per hour when Operation Brock was inactive.

From 1st Jan 2021, Highways England will deploy instead a concrete quick moveable barrier to set up the contraflow. The moveable barrier will be ready to use in December 2020 and will enable around 2,000 HCVs to be held – the same capacity as the 2019 planned contraflow. This will be available for long-term traffic management plans and is not just a response to any cross-Channel disruption at the end of the transition period.

Kent sites and revision of traffic management plans

Goods being moved from GB to the EU must be prepared for full EU import controls from 1 January 2021.

The UK Government has announced that goods moving from the EU to GB will also be subject to third country import controls, but these checks will be phased in during the first half of 2021.

For Eurotunnel and the Port of Dover, this is likely to require new inland border control posts as there is insufficient space for the new facilities at the ports.

While the inland border control posts are intended for checks conducted by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) on inbound and outbound goods, they could also be used as new holding sites for outbound HCVs as part of Operation Brock (HGV traffic management system).

The UK Government has purchased a new site in Ashford to support this. Construction at the site has commenced, and it will provide approximately 2,000 HCV holding spaces. The new Ashford site is being integrated into updated traffic management plans for the end of the transition period. This overall plan is still in development and is likely also to incorporate some but not all of the other parts of the 2019 approach.

Extending the sunset clause

In Oct 2019, the Government had issued three Orders (Statutory Instruments) to give the Kent Resilience Forum the ability to create traffic restriction periods that require HCV drivers to use designated roads to reach the ports (including under specific conditions), and to follow instructions from traffic officers.

There would have been four Brock phases to handle increasing levels of congestion:

• phase 1: using the Dover Traffic Assessment Protocol (TAP 20) to hold around 500 lorries on the six-mile section of A20 leading to Dover

• phase 2: queuing on the coastbound M20 (J8-J9) with a steel barrier to create the contraflow, with all other non-freight traffic going through the M2

• phase 3: Manston Airport HCV holding facility for all Port of Dover freight (Eurotunnel freight would have continued to be held on M20 J8-J9)

• phase 4: M26 queuing system coastbound and London-bound for all Eurotunnel freight

As the current set of SIs expire on 31 December 2020, the Government proposes to extend the sunset clause to October 2021 to allow Operation Brock to continue and be enforceable in 2021.

The smart freight (SF) service

SF is an online service for the RoRo freight industry being developed by the UK Government. The service will help to simplify and automate the process of establishing the border-readiness of an HCV to help mitigate the risk of delays.

It will ask questions relating to the expected EU import controls at the border to ensure the HCV driver has the necessary documents before they travel. The service will include an online portal for registration of goods movements and an operator application to check compliance with the service.

For 1 Jan 2021, two key products are being developed to upstream the border-readiness checking process to the point of loading:

1 a web-based portal for the SF service (the ‘SF portal’) which enables the HCV driver, or someone acting on their behalf, to self-declare if they have all the documentation they need to take goods across the Short Straits

2 a mobile application (the ‘SF app’) which enables enforcement officials to confirm that a vehicle is registered on the SF portal, and to see the outcome of their self-declaration

The Government’s consultation questions are found in this document – here

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