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News | Published July 01 2019

UK to revise freight plan for no-deal Brexit

The government is calling upon freight firms to bid to provide extra freight capacity which will be used from October 31 in the event of a no-deal Brexit. 

The initial ferry procurement process, which was hastily conducted in the run-up to the initial Brexit deadline of March 29, costed the taxpayer in excess of £85 million.

This included £34 million worth of settlements and legal fees to the Eurotunnel firm, which was overlooked during the bidding process and took subsequent legal action.

The government says it is not committed to purchasing extra freight capacity but wants measures in place to do so if necessary.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “The DfT is putting in place a freight capacity framework agreement that will provide government departments with the ability to secure freight capacity for our critical supply chains as and when required.

"This framework does not commit the government to purchasing or reserving any freight capacity, but it does provide a flexible list of operators and options for the provision of the capacity that can be drawn upon if needed.”

In the aftermath of the initial bidding process, the government terminated contracts worth over £100 million with freight firms Seaborne Freight, DFDS and Brittany Ferries after the UK was granted an extension to the withdrawal negotiations by the EU.

This prompted calls for Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, to resign.

All of the contracts, struck with the purpose of offering extra freight capacity, were awarded without a thorough public tendering process.

Seaborne Freight was awarded a £13.8 million contract, which was eventually scrapped, despite having no ships in its fleet.

Terminating the DFDS and Brittany Ferries contracts came at a cost of £51 million.

The DfT is now pursuing an open bidding process in its search for a new freight plan, inviting offers from any firms that are “suitably qualified”.

The criteria for the applications doesn’t take into consideration specific transport modes but “roll-on, roll-off capacity” for lorries is a key requirement.

Eurotunnel are welcome for inclusion in the bidding process, while Seaborne Freight will not be among the bidders .

Brittany Ferries, meanwhile, will “carefully consider” what options it can viably offer before any offer is made.


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Authored by

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
@theparlreview
July 01 2019

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