No-deal Brexit could lead to shutdown of Scotland's transport network

Crucial Scottish transport connections could shut down and essential services and possibly future house building programmes could be abandoned after Brexit, council emergency planning documents show.

The preparation and assessment documents. put together by the country's 32 local authorities, disclosed the aftermath of a no-deal Brexit and the impact it could have on local communities, specifically the disruption to transport networks.

The papers, retrieved by the Herald through a Freedom of Information request, highlight how the creation of "hard-borders" in places such as Dumfries and Galloway could slow or shut down services.

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Services from ferry ports at Cairnryan, between Shetland and the mainland, and flights set to land at Prestwick airport are included in the networks which could be under threat if the UK left the EU without a deal on October 31.

The documents showedthat ports in the UK, especially those withservices crossing the Irish Sea fromScotland,could operate at as low as 40 per cent of their current capacity. Picture: PA

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Authorities are drawing up plans to re-open the port at Stranraer, which ended its services in 2011, to take the load from surrounding routes and avoid a build-up.

This could lead to the implementation of “Operation Stack”, which could see lorries and other goods vehicles lining both sides of both the A75 and A77 in an attempt to lower congestion levels.

The documents further indicate there are fears that Cairnryan could be vulnerable to smuggling and organised crime, due to “the impact of UK proposals for customs arrangements in Northern Ireland”.

Ferry services, including P&O Ferries who operate services from the port, could be set for delays, however many have refused to indicate how passengers will be affected, saying they expected authorities “to act to mitigate the impact of any reintroduced customs and sanitary controls”.

The reports also showed that ports in the UK, especially those with services crossing the Irish Sea from Scotland, could operate at as low as 40 per cent of their current capacity.

Government commandeering ships is "last resort"

Fears have been raised by rural communities, including Shetland Islands Council, about the potential for ferries to be “commandeered” by their owners, the Scottish Government, as Transport Scotland has already developed plans to “commandeer” a vessel operating in the Northern Isles.

However, the Scottish Government has said the use of a ship travelling to Shetland will be a "last resort" and disruption to communities would be ‘minimised’.

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, said:“Shetland’s internal ferry services are the only means of transport between islands. If this were a town and the Government was proposing to take away its buses and its trains, there would be outrage. The same arguments apply."

The documents also outline how a no-deal Brexit could affect holidaymakers, with Brexit planning by North Council claiming that planes travelling to Prestwick Airport could be unable to land due to licensing issues with the site’s air traffic controllers.

Although the Civil Aviation Authority failed to comment on the issue, this is consistent with their suggestion that navigation providers may need to ‘take action to ensure continuity’- meaning other airports in Scotland could also face similar problems.