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Lorries held for long periods, prompting retailers to reject some orders

IT problem causes Brexit border delays that impact perishable goods from the EU

Lorries transporting perishable food and plants from the EU to the UK have experienced delays of up to 20 hours at the UK's primary Brexit border crossing due to malfunctions in the government's IT systems. These delays have affected the import process, with businesses reporting significant disruptions due to IT system outages. Particularly affected were lorries carrying fresh goods, leading to a reduction in the shelf life of these goods and causing some retailers to reject orders. The most severe disruptions occurred last weekend, with delays ranging from eight to 20 hours at the government's control post for Dover and the Channel Tunnel, triggered by the failure of the IT system responsible for registering goods.

Physical checks on animal and plant products from the EU were introduced at the beginning of the month as part of the UK's post-Brexit import regulations. However, issues with the Automatic Licence Verification System (ALVS) have since led to prolonged holds at border posts, necessitating manual document checks.

Over the past weekend, several importers and customs agents experienced stops at the Sevington post in Ashford, Kent, due to the IT system's failure. The government acknowledged a technical issue on Saturday that impacted the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra)'s digital services, affecting the ALVS. To address the issue, importers were required to manually submit documents for inspection. Despite these challenges, Defra claimed there were no significant delays to border checks.

Nigel Jenney, chief executive of the Fresh Produce Consortium, expressed concern over the recurring incidents and their considerable impact on the sector. A Defra spokesperson mentioned that a power outage over the weekend had disrupted one of the essential systems for processing imports, but assured that contingency plans were in place for affected vehicles, in collaboration with HMRC and Border Force.


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