Scotland’s salmon farmers, producers of the UK’s top food export, are demanding seafood consignments at the Channel crossings are given priority by the UK Government.
The plea comes just three days before the UK leaves the EU, and after nine days of severe disruption to cross-channel crossings caused by the French border closure just before Christmas.
The Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, the trade body for Scotland’s salmon farmers, say it is imperative that the UK Government delivers on its commitment to prioritise perishable seafood.
The UK Department for Transport has plans, set to be introduced on January 1st to prioritise seafood and day-old chicks, allowing these products to be fast-tracked through the Channel crossing points, by-passing queues of lorries waiting to get into France.
But, with queues of lorries already taking days to clear in Kent – due to the knock-on effects of the French border closure last week and the need to test every haulage driver for Covid - there is an obvious need for the new prioritisation rules to be introduced earlier, according to the SSPO.
Tavish Scott, the Chief Executive of the SSPO, said: “We have had nine days of challenges with queues of lorries trying to get across the Channel. That is before the extra paperwork and bureaucratic checks which will be needed after Friday.
“It is imperative that the UK Government acts now to head off the further problems which are likely to take effect from the end of this week. Ministers have to make it clear that they want the prioritisation of seafood and other time-sensitive products to begin as soon as possible. The time for that arrangement is now.
“If this is not done, then Scotland’s fish farmers are going to face a second transport crisis. They have already lost millions having been shut out of the European market in the run-up to Christmas. They cannot afford to go through that again. That is why the UK Government has to act now and make it clear that prioritising seafood consignments has to happen without delay.”
Any decision to implement this part of the traffic-management contingency plans would be taken by the Kent Resilience Forum. The UK Government is a major and influential player on that forum.
- DID YOU KNOW?
- In December around 3,800 tonnes of fresh Scottish salmon is exported to the EU via Channel ports
- That's worth around £1.1 million to Scottish salmon farming businesses
- In addition a further £10 million of Scottish salmon products, like fillets and smoked, are sold to the EU in December.
Find out more about the Scottish Salmon Sector here: Scottish Salmon - A Better Future For Us All