European migrant crisis costing £1bn in spoiled loads

About £3m worth of goods a day, equal to £1bn a year, are having to be destroyed due to tampering and contamination, according to a UK-based trade association.
The Road Haulage Assocation's chief executive, Richard Burnett, says loads are scrapped if there is a risk they have been tampered with.
The Road Haulage Assocation's chief executive, Richard Burnett, says loads are scrapped if there is a risk they have been tampered with.


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The Road Haulage Assocation's chief executive, Richard Burnett, has estimated that the cost of spoiled loads due to the migrant crisis in Calais is approximately £1 billion per annum.

Giving evidence in the UK on Tuesday to the Home Affairs Select Committee hearing on the migrant situation at Calais, Burnett – who heads up the only UK trade association dedicated solely to the needs of UK road transport operators – explained that illegal stowaways have been known to contaminate loads with human waste and tamper with the loads to conceal themselves.

As a result, companies are having to destroy complete shipments of goods.

He commented: “The owners of goods have to take the drastic action of scrapping loads as they cannot take the risk that they have been contaminated or damaged.

"With something in the order of 10,000 loads moving every day across the Channel, even if only 1% are tampered with or soiled, at a loss rate of about £30,000 per trailer, this equates to about £3 million a day equalling £1 billion a year.

"That’s a massive and unacceptable cost to our economy and many hauliers are having to absorb large parts of that cost."

He added that there are other costs associated with vehicles being delayed or prevented from making deliveries, and stated "the stress caused to drivers is incalculable”.

At Tuesday's Home Affairs Select Committee hearing, Burnett presented the Road Haulage Association's core demands to protect lorry drivers in Calais, based on his own visit to Calais during the recent period of unprecedented migrant activity.

Burnett called for the security levels at the Port of Calais to be improved in order to secure the safe passage of HGVs in the surrounding area up to a distance of 5km; for the French military to be deployed to help the Port authorities if the police alone cound not control security; and secure parking for HGVs waiting to board ferries and trains.

In a statement, Burnett noted: “The Road Haulage Association has been calling for extra security for hauliers for years. Recent developments in Calais have seen the problem escalate to the point where the local authorities just cannot cope.”

The Road Haulage Association's members operate tens of thousands of commercial vehicles.

The body campaigns on behalf of its members, and the haulage industry as a whole, at local, national and international level. 

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