BMPA calls for “can-do attitude” from government on Dover backlogs
Chief Executive of the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) Nick Allen has today [12th April] called for more government action on backlogs of lorries carrying perishable goods at the port of Dover.
Bad weather, Easter holidays and P&O Ferries routes being suspended have led to continued congestion around the port. The government said traffic management measures were under regular review.
Earlier this week, the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) reported that its members who have lorries carrying fresh meat, have been stranded for one to two days or possibly longer due to the current delays.
Speaking on the Farming Today radio programme, Nick Allen said that there is “no prioritisation system in place” for lorries carrying perishable goods, including meat. Allen added that the impact of delays on delivering these goods include a shorter shelf-life leading to retailers in Europe paying less for British products.
‘Get things moving again’
In a television interview, Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustice told BBC Breakfast that prioritising lorries carrying perishable goods was “not something that’s realistic at the moment.”
He said: “We have looked at a prioritisation system, particularly for perishable fish; but it’s quite a difficult thing to stand up. You need a way of identifying the lorries. You’d need to be able to corral them into a particular area, and then escort them past other traffic to get them onto the ferry. It’s quite a difficult thing to pull off, actually, and quite difficult to do on that scale.”
He added: “The right thing to do is to clear this backlog and get things moving again.”
‘We want to make this work’
Responding to Eustice’s claims, Allen said that it was in fact practically possible to maneuverer lorries from the queue to another area of the port. He added that because the shipping process now operates on a pre-notified basis, it would also be possible to identify which lorries held perishable goods.
He said: “This [process] would be easier to do than [Eustice] described there. I think it just needs a will to do it.”
When asked whether the government had their “heads in the sand”, Allen replied that he wished for “a bit more of a can-do attitude to solving these problems, rather than trying to brush them aside.”
He said: “We all want to make this work, but if we keep letting our customers down on the continent then sooner or later, they will go and buy produce somewhere else.”