Government launches plans to extend ‘cabotage’ rights for EU HGV drivers

Thousands more HGV deliveries could be made each month in the UK under government plans to help bolster the country’s supply chains by temporarily extending so-called ‘cabotage’ rights.

The proposals set out in a consultation mean foreign operators that come into the country laden with goods can pick up and drop off goods an unlimited number of times for two weeks before they return home.

Currently, hauliers from the EU can only make up to two cabotage trips within seven days.

Subject to a one-week consultation, the temporary measures would come into force towards the end of this year for up to six months, helping secure supply chains in the medium-term alongside the wider package of measures government has put in place to address the shortage of drivers more broadly.

The relaxation would apply to all types of goods but is likely to be particularly beneficial to food supply chains and goods that come via ports, by ensuring lorries from abroad coming into the UK are used more efficiently, helping to tackle the temporary global supply chain pressures brought on by the pandemic and the global economy rebounding.

HGV driver shortage

It comes as the government continues to address the current global shortage of HGV drivers which is affecting countries around the world, and builds on the raft of measures that have already been announced to support the sector, including boosting testing capacity and streamlining the licence process.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

“The long-term answer to the supply chain issues we’re currently experiencing must be developing a high-skill, high-wage economy here in the UK.

“Alongside a raft of other measures to help the road haulage industry, we’ve streamlined the testing process and announced thousands of skills bootcamps to train new drivers.

These measures are working – we’ve been seeing up to three times more applications for HGV driving licences than normal as well as a deserved rise in salaries.

“The temporary changes we’re consulting on to cabotage rules will also make sure foreign hauliers in the UK can use their time effectively and get more goods moving in the supply chain at a time of high demand.”