On-farm AD operators rely heavily on components from European manufacturers to keep their combined heat and power engines running smoothly – but Brexit and Covid-19 have thrown a spanner in the works of the established supply chain for regular spares like spark plugs and filters.

According to a survey by the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, 45% of firms have experienced delays getting goods into the UK from the EU since 1 January 2021, citing new Brexit custom requirements and additional Covid-19 protocols as the main causes of delay. Worryingly, there are fears that border disruptions will only intensify in the coming months, as the volume of goods being imported into the UK increases. A total of 17% of respondents admitted they were currently importing less than usual due to stockpiling ahead of the Brexit deadline; once this stock has depleted, traffic will increase, and further delays and stock shortages are expected.

Managing director of gas engine support specialist Gen-C, James Thompson, offered some advice to on-farm AD operators looking to keep their CHP's running while avoiding border delays, additional costs and bureaucratic red tape.

"The new Brexit custom requirements mean that, from January 1, 2021, a farmer looking to import spares from Germany, for example, must now follow multiple steps," said Mr Thompson. "First, they need to fill in an online form and apply to HMRC for an EORI number that starts with GB. Then, they must find out the commodity code and value for the goods they want to import and include this on their import declaration. This will determine the rate of duty and VAT they need to pay and whether they need an import licence.

"Next, they must check the labelling, marking and marketing rules before attempting to get their goods through customs. If they’ve appointed someone to deal with UK customs on their behalf, this representative can make the declaration and get the goods through the UK border. If not, they will have to make an import declaration and get the goods cleared by UK customs themselves.

If they are VAT registered, they can then apply to claim back any VAT paid on the goods imported, for which they will need an Import VAT Certificate (C79). If they paid the wrong amount of duty or rejected the goods, they will need to claim a refund on import duties or make a claim for rejected imports. Finally, they must keep records of all commercial invoices and any customs paperwork."

Mr Thompson suggested that, if that all sounded too much like hard work for a box of CHP spark plugs, the alternative was to use a UK agent for European manufacturers to shoulder the bureaucratic burden.

"As the exclusive distributor for Motortech, a German provider of parts and systems for all popular gas engines, Gen-C can supply a wide range of high-quality components to the UK market," he said. "We are also the UK partner of RS Motor, a Spanish-based supplier of spares for leading MWM and Jenbacher engines, and we specialise in upgrading gas CHP and genset control panels with Motortech air fuel ratio expertise underwritten with ComAp technology.

"Thanks to a significant investment in stock, our Sheffield warehouse now contains all the key European engine components that UK AD operators require, such as spark plugs, filters, HT leads, spark plug gaskets, speed pick-ups, control components, spark view ignition testing units, timing lights, and spark plug cleaning kits," he added.