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Customs checks will have serious implications for haulage industry

It is almost a year since the UK took the decision to leave the European Union yet we still do not know precisely what arrangements will be in place to deal with the border.

The key players all say they do not wish to see a return to the hard border of the past but firm proposals have not been produced.

Brexit minister David Davis has spoken about a virtual border that would involve some form of unspecified electronic monitoring while last week the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned there would have to be some customs measures in place to protect the single market.

Meanwhile, the EU has made the border issue a pre-condition to talks, along with citizens rights and the exit payment being demanded of Britain.

However, this week we did hear some detail about what we might expect once the UK leaves the rest of Europe.

Revenue Commissioner Liam Irwin told a Dáil committee that EU law dictates that some inspections would be required and around six to eight per cent of freight would be checked, mostly for paperwork but there would also be a small number of physical inspections.

These checks would take place at `trade facilitation posts' situated around 10km to 15km from the border.

Not surprisingly, this information has caused concern in the haulage industry which points out that eight per cent of HGV journeys potentially represents 500 to 600 vehicles being stopped and checked on a daily basis with all the disruption that that would entail.

Even a short detour and delay could have an impact on cost which is likely to be passed on to the consumer and overall there are serious implications for the movement of goods on this island.

They may be called `trade facilitation posts' but the aim will be to stop and check a significant number of vehicles - something we are all keen to avoid.

All this is deeply alarming and will serve to reinforce fears about a hard border.

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