The government has signed £ 86.6 million freight contracts with four ferry companies to ship drugs in the case of a Brexit without agreement.
Brittany Ferries, DFDS, P&O and Stena Line will provide additional capacity for up to 3,000 HGVs per week using eight ports away from the Dover-Calais Strait across the English Channel.
If not agreed, the government predicted that traffic on the Channel could be disrupted for six months, with a reduction in cargo capacity of up to 60%.
Earlier this week, former medical director Dame Sally Davies warned that “patients could die” because of drug shortages caused by a brexit without agreement.
The six-month contracts provide for ferries available for embarkation as of October 31 on 13 mainland routes.
Ferries will travel to Teesport, Hull, Killingholme, Felixstowe, Harwich, Tilbury, Portsmouth and Cherbourg Poole, Caen, Le Havre, Zeebrugge, Hook of Holland, Rotterdam, Europort and Vlaardingen.
If the government agrees to an agreement or extension with the European Union, the government will pay a termination fee of £ 11.5 million, significantly less than the £ 50 million spent to terminate contracts signed before the initial deadline. Brexit in March.
This process was controversial because one of the chosen companies, Seaborne Freight, did not own or lease barges, but the government is confident it has learned from this process.
Brittany Ferries, DFDS, P&O and Stena Line are all established operators that operate regular services inside and outside the United Kingdom.
A UK ferry operator told Sky News that interruptions and delays would be unavoidable, despite mitigation measures, in an unscheduled exit.
“The United Kingdom is preparing to leave the EU on October 31 and, like any sensible government, we are preparing for all the results,” said Grant Shapps, Secretary of Transport.
“Our decisive action means that cargo operators will be ready and waiting for the transportation of vital medicines to the country from the moment we leave.”
To bid for contracts, all companies should already be in the government’s cargo capacity structure – a shortlist of experienced and capable cargo operators.
The pharmaceutical industry has been preparing for a deal for 18 months, storing at least six weeks for supplies of up to 12,000 medicines and medical supplies.
Air freight capacity will also be chartered to enable prompt delivery of time sensitive medicines.
Category one drug suppliers will need to register to use government freight capacity and will receive a supplier access code to book tickets on dedicated routes.
Major insulin suppliers, including Novo Nordisk and Sanofi, have chartered their own additional capacity.
Last month, Jesper Christensen, DFDS’s chief operating officer in Dover, told Sky News that the interruption was inevitable in the event of disagreement.
“We are concerned that part of the import and export as well as some of our customers are not ready and that means they cannot get the documentation to pass through French customs and of course will cause some disruption.”
“From day one, it will start and continue for a few weeks. There will be a learning curve for some of them, for some it will be very steep.”
More information regarding DFDS and Brexit: https://www.dfdsseaways.co.uk/brexit-guarantee