Representatives of the British road haulage industry have told French officials that planning for road transport in the event of a no-deal Brexit is “dire” and “simply not robust enough”.

The warning was given by RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett at a meeting of French businesses and officials at the Hauts de France regional government headquarters in Lille.

Burnett spelt out the complex customs procedures that would be needed – citing the example of one haulier who has 8000 different shipments on a truck, each requiring an import and export declaration and a Safety and Security Declaration.

With 3000 trucks a week crossing the Channel for that one firm, it would mean millions of pieces of paperwork.

“With each declaration taking 10 minutes, you would need 170 people working eight hours a day to process one load,” Burnett said. “Customs processes simply won’t work.“

He went on to say government assurances that they would relax rules to allow faster movement of trucks “may mean firms are breaking the law by not doing customs paperwork, and no responsible firm will want to take that risk.

“It’s critical we keep volume moving in case of a no-deal Brexit, and UK haulage businesses are deeply concerned about the lack of clarity and information.”

Earlier, the Border Delivery Group claimed although much extra customs paperwork will be needed – it’s hoped it can be done away from the border to avoid queues – it recognises the challenges, but will prioritise flow and fluidity.

The BDG claims considerable preparation work had been done on contingency planning – though the RHA chief countered that those plans were “simply not robust enough”.