Call to prioritise Channel food exports
Cabinet Secretary urges UK action to support Scottish firms.
Practical steps the UK Government could take to ease pressure on Scottish firms caught up in Channel Tunnel delays have been set out by Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead.
Scottish businesses from the fishing and food processing sectors have raised concerns about spoiled goods and cancelled orders caused by the on-going situation in Calais.
The First Minister and Fisheries Secretary have already raised concerns with the UK Government and appealed for action to prioritise fresh produce being exported to the continent, which is one of Scotland largest food export markets.
Following an update from industry representatives, Mr Lochhead has this afternoon spoken to the UK’s Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport and the Home Office, Lord Tariq Ahmad, where he called for the UK Government to implement a system for giving priority passage for lorries carrying perishable goods, such as seafood.
Mr Lochhead said:
“I conveyed in the strongest possible terms the deeply damaging impact that this situation is having on Scottish businesses and, in particular, our seafood companies. Scottish seafood is in huge demand on the continent and beyond, and exports have to reach customers on time and in a fresh condition. But the continued disruption is resulting in businesses losing money and orders.
“The situation in Calais is clearly complex and requires a multi-agency response involving both UK and French authorities – but the longer it goes on, the higher the price Scottish exporters will have to pay.
“As well as a long term strategy which responds to the human and humanitarian issue around migration, we need action to address the immediate issue around getting vehicles and exports moving again.
“The Scottish Government stands ready to do what we can but the reality is that there are some practical steps the UK Government could take to ease the pressure on Scottish producers – in particular, prioritising the export of fresh, perishable produce – including over any empty lorries travelling back to the continent - and considering alternative ways of transporting food exports across the Channel.
“Scottish Ministers will continue to make the strongest possible representations to the UK Government and press it and the French authorities to work together to swiftly resolve these issues and the on-going situation regarding migrant incursions. Meanwhile, we will continue our close dialogue with the affected sectors in Scotland to see what practical steps the Scottish Government can take to minimise the impact, such as helping the industry identify alternative routes to market or modes of transport."
Notes To Editors
The Scottish Government continues to hold resilience meetings to monitor the situation. See also: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Action-needed-on-export-delays-1b91.aspx
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