Video report by Gregory Hoare
Haulage businesses in Scotland are warning disruption at the port of Dover is costing them millions of pounds.When news of the blockage was announced, four lorries owned by Eyemouth-based seafood producer DR Collin & Son were in Dover.It took a frantic effort from staff to ensure the cargo was allowed onto a ferry, while the hauliers themselves had to remain at the port. Fortunately, the business already had drivers in France, who were able to collect the shipments once they had arrived. If it hadn't been for them the live seafood would have perished, costing the company around £600,000.Managing Director James Cook told Representing Border he has now decided to cancel shipments until after Christmas, meaning seafood they should be selling will instead have to wait in cold stores, meaning they miss out on hundreds of thousands of pounds of trade. He said they wouldn't know the financial impact until January, but it was likely to be "sobering".The head of Eyemouth's largest company also said he feared this week's disruption was a "taste of what's to come" from the end of the Brexit transition period, which he calls a "cataclysmic event".
France closed its border to UK arrivals on Sunday, over concerns of a new variant of coronavirus.Talks between the two countries are continuing, with a solution likely to involve the testing of lorry drivers travelling from the UK to France.The Road Haulage Association says concerns like those raised by DR Collin & Son are widespread.Martin Reid, the group's Director for Scotland and Northern Ireland, says it's difficult to estimate how many millions of pounds exporters and haulage companies will be losing, even if the stalemate ends.He feels it's also important to recognise the impact on drivers, many of whom may be stuck sleeping in their vehicles, with little access to toilet facilities. "The quicker we can get the borders moving again the better, because what we've seen is the infrastructure in the UK is not set up to cope with something like this. Obviously it brings concerns for what's going to happen on the 1st of January. The French have basically shown us what Brexit will be like."The First Minister has pledged to support the seafood industry.At Holyrood this afternoon, Nicola Sturgeon acknowledged it was the "peak time of the year" for seafood exporters, and that losing Christmas trade was "devastating".