Thousands of British lorry drivers face the prospect of being barred from entering the EU after missing out on permits that will be required after Brexit.

Figures show more than 11,000 HGV operators applied for a European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) permit but less than 1,000 of the annual passes were made available.

The Department for Transport said an additional 2,832 one-month permits “will start to be allocated” by the end of the month, although this is still short of how many are required.

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The Road Haulage Association (RHA) criticised the decision, describing the current state as an “intolerable position”.

“When the bidding process for permits was first announced, we said that it amounted to nothing more than a lottery system,” RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett said.

“Even with the new allocation, ECMT will only supply permits for around 10 per cent of the sector’s needs.”

Applicants who have been unsuccessful in this bidding round will be automatically entered into the next allocation round for ECMT permits but the RHA have claimed not all operators who require the passes applied the first time round.

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“To say that many international hauliers will be disappointed is an understatement. How can they be expected to maintain the flow of exports to the rest of the EU if they do not have and cannot have enough permits to allow access to Europe?” Mr Burnett said.

“We need the alternatives to be put in place, or even better, we need a full transition period so practical measures can be achieved to maintain our supply chains.”

A DfT spokesperson told The Independent: “The Government continues to work towards a deal and we are confident of securing a relationship with the EU which maintains the current, liberalised access we enjoy.

“This is very much in the interest of the EU as well as the UK. We are confident that hauliers should not need an ECMT permit to continue operating in the EU.

“The Commission has already put forward proposals which would ensure hauliers continue carrying goods into the EU for in the event of no deal but we will continue to work on all possible contingency measures.”

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