The HGV crisis has caused fuel and food shortages in Britain
EU lorry drivers on British roads will be allowed to make unlimited pick-ups and drop-offs as rules are temporarily relaxed by ministers in a bid to ease the supply crisis.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps has altered limits on trading rights in order to allow more deliveries.
Mr Shapps hopes the waiver will help fix fuel and food shortages as complains grow over empty shelves.
To try and ease the crisis — a Europe-wide problem exacerbated in the UK by Brexit — a consultation is being launched on companies’ “cabotage” rights.
Whitehall is proposing to extend them to strengthen supply chains and prevent shops running out of goods or putting prices up.
Cabotage rules govern the transport of goods or passengers within one country by a transport operator from a different country.
Currently hauliers from the EU can only make up to two trips between two places in the UK within one week.
The measures would allow foreign operators to pick up and drop off goods an unlimited number of times over a two-week period before they return to their country of origin.
If approved after the one-week consultation, the proposals would come into force before the end of the year and last for six months.
Mr Shapps said: “The long-term answer to the supply chain issues we’re currently experiencing must be developing a high-skill, high-wage economy here in the UK.
“Alongside a raft of other measures to help the road haulage industry, we’ve streamlined the testing process and announced thousands of skills boot camps to train new drivers.
“These new measures are working – we’ve been seeing up to three times more applications for HGV driving licences than normal as well as a deserved rise in salaries.
“The temporary changes we’re consulting on to cabotage rules will also make sure foreign hauliers in the UK can use their time effectively and get more goods moving in the supply chain at a time of high demand.”
The Government said the cabotage changes would apply to all types of goods but be “particularly beneficial” to food supply chains and imports that arrive from ports.
Retailers have expressed fears ongoing supply chain problems will result in higher prices and empty shelves into December.
A build-up of cargo in Felixstowe has led to shipping company Maersk opting to divert vessels away from the Suffolk port, while similar logjams have been seen elsewhere in the world, including in the US.