Home U.K Truckers queue for up to eight HOURS for their border paperwork to...

Truckers queue for up to eight HOURS for their border paperwork to be signed off

0


Truckers are queuing for up to eight hours for their border paperwork to be signed off at a beleaguered Brexit lorry park in Kent.

Photos show drivers left waiting in the rain in a giant queue at the Waterbrook Park estate off the M20 in Ashford, which is being used for customs checks until the end of February.

After the lengthy wait to have their documents approved, frustrated truckers then need to be tested for coronavirus before they are allowed to proceed over the Channel.

The delayed, 1,700-capacity Sevington Lorry Park will take over the task from Waterbrook in March, as fears continue to grow over long delays as a result of the UK’s exit from the EU, with business chiefs admitting today things will ‘get worse before they get better’.

Under Brexit rules which came into force on January 1, hauliers need to obtain a Kent Access Permit and complete the correct paperwork for their cargo, or else they could be fined.

With thousands heading to the port every day, it can be easy for queues to quickly build up without the proper, permanent facilities, as was seen in the pre-Christmas chaos when thousands of lorries were trapped as France closed its border to Britain.

Rod McKenzie, director of policy at the Road Haulage Association, said the delays were ‘shocking’ as the industry body branded the situation a ‘perfect storm’. 

It comes as a plan was revealed today to allow supermarket lorries heading for the continent to bypass queues so they can be refilled and return as quickly as possible. 

Photos show drivers left waiting in the rain in a giant queue at the Waterbrook Park estate off the M20 in Ashford in Kent, which is being used for customs checks until the end of February

Photos show drivers left waiting in the rain in a giant queue at the Waterbrook Park estate off the M20 in Ashford in Kent, which is being used for customs checks until the end of February

Police officers manage freight lorries queueing for the Ashford International Truckstop in Ashford, Kent today

Police officers manage freight lorries queueing for the Ashford International Truckstop in Ashford, Kent today

The site is at near capacity as Channel traffic builds up following a quiet start to the year and the end of the transition period with the European Union on December 31

The site is at near capacity as Channel traffic builds up following a quiet start to the year and the end of the transition period with the European Union on December 31

Plan to fast-track empty supermarket lorries during Kent disruption 

Empty supermarket lorries heading to the EU will be fast tracked during disruption in Kent under Government plans to maintain food supplies.

The proposed scheme aims to ensure the vehicles are not delayed from crossing the Channel, so they can be refilled and return as quickly as possible.

Eligible lorries would be given access to open lanes on the M20 during delays at the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel terminal.

The consultation document issued by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says these are ’emergency measures only to be used in extremis and for the shortest time possible’.

The scheme would be triggered once congestion on the approach roads to Dover reaches eight hours, and deliveries to supermarkets fall below 75% of the schedule for two consecutive days.

Thousands of lorries were backed up in Kent in the days before Christmas when France blocked trade across the Channel due to a mutant variant of coronavirus spreading through the UK.

Defra said ‘the potential for further disruption remains high’ due to the pandemic and new border processes and procedures resulting from the end of the Brexit transition period.

The document went on: ‘The combination of these unprecedented factors is likely to contribute to delays at the border which could, in turn, prevent the speedy return of empty goods vehicles to the EU where they can collect more food.

‘Such delays are likely to have a direct impact on the UK’s food supply.’

Defra is also proposing to fast track Gibraltar-bound groceries, as it relies on the UK for about half of its food supply.

Posting a photo on Twitter, he wrote: ‘Ashford truck stop today with drivers queuing for up to eight hours to get their border paperwork cleared then having to get COVID test afterwards for France.’ 

A spokesperson for the RHA said of the current delays: ‘Trucks are sat there for hours at a time and not able to pass go.

‘It’s no surprise to us. The systems they’re using are untested.

‘Everything has been last minute. They’ve had no time whatsoever to get used to a raft of new processes.

‘It’s a perfect storm of the worrying delays that were going to happen.

‘The worry is that the capacity and volumes are below usual and it’s quieter than usual.

‘We’re really, really concerned about what happens when volumes are returned to normal.’

It is thought that the queues are being caused by a lack of staff to process paperwork checks at the site.

Traffic at Dover has increased in the last week and is now running at two thirds of the normal rate for the time of the year, according to the Port of Dover.

Yesterday a three and a half mile queue of lorries had built up on the M20 due to Operation Brock, according to motorists. 

The transport management system, which was originally devised to cope with the possible fallout of a no-deal Brexit, queues lorries in the left hand lane of the M20 – allowing other vehicles to continue flowing smoothly. 

In the Kent village of Sevington, a ‘glut’ of lorries were reported to be clogging up roads in the area.

The sleepy parish, home to just over 300 people, is surrounded by the Waterbrook Park site and the partially operational giant post-Brexit Sevington Lorry Park, where Covid-19 testing is taking place.

According to figures from Sevington South councillor, Paul Bartlett, 690 lorries had passed through the Waterbrook site in the 24 hours up to 9pm last night.

A further 1,190 people had used the Sevington Covid testing site.

Cllr Bartlett said: ‘There’s a lack of communication between various agencies and a lack of communication when traffic is moved between the two sites unfortunately.

‘It’s important to make sure that there’s not a glut of them at the same time.’

He added that the queues around the village yesterday began at 6.30pm and lasted two hours.

Earlier this week, work began on yet another Kent lorry park as diggers carved up farmland above the White Cliffs of Dover for a new post-Brexit customs facility.

Once complete, the site in Guston, near Dover, will open as a customs checkpoint facility, with the ability to hold 1,200 lorries, should there be delays at the ports similar to those seen last month. 

Diggers were at the Dover White Cliffs site in Guston on Monday to start work on a post-Brexit customs check point

Diggers were at the Dover White Cliffs site in Guston on Monday to start work on a post-Brexit customs check point

Work is underway on another customs checkpoint, with space for up to 1,700 lorries, in Sevington, Ashford

Work is underway on another customs checkpoint, with space for up to 1,700 lorries, in Sevington, Ashford

Kent will have five customs check facilities up and running by July, which will monitor traffic using the Eurotunnel and the Port of Dover

Kent will have five customs check facilities up and running by July, which will monitor traffic using the Eurotunnel and the Port of Dover  

Diggers get to work on another lorry park as they carve up farmland above White Cliffs of Dover

Work has begun on yet another Kent lorry park as diggers carved up farmland above the White Cliffs of Dover today for a new post-Brexit customs facility.

Once complete, the site in Guston, near Dover, will open as a customs checkpoint facility, with the ability to hold 1,200 lorries, should there be delays at the ports similar to those seen last month. 

Work is well underway at a similar facility in Sevington, Ashford, which will be able to hold up to 2,000 trucks.

The sites in Guston and Sevington are set to be used for post-Brexit customs checks to prevent delays at nearby ports – with three other sites in Kent are set to also be up and running by July.

But villagers are up in arms over at Guston, referred to as the Dover White Cliffs site, amid fears it will replace Manston Airport as the main holding bay for lorries in the event of cross-Channel delays. 

The sites in Guston and Sevington are set to be used for post-Brexit customs checks to prevent delays at nearby ports – with three other sites in Kent set to also be up and running by July.

But villagers are up in arms over at Guston, referred to as the Dover White Cliffs site, amid fears it will replace Manston Airport as the main holding bay for lorries in the event of cross-Channel delays. 

Once up and running, the 70-acre Dover White Cliffs site will carry out checks for the Port of Dover, while Sevington will monitor Eurotunnel checks. 

Work on the Kent coast comes after thousands of lorries trapped were trapped in the county last month when France closed its border to Britain.

Lorry drivers were forced to park up at Manston Airport, where there is provision for 4,000 HGVs, as well as Ashford International Lorry Park, which has space for 200, while the M20 was also used as a holding bay under Operation Stack.

Meanwhile, it emerged today under new Government plans, certain lorries will be given access to open lanes on the M20 during delays at the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel terminal in order to cross the Channel, refill and return as quickly as possible.

The consultation document issued by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says these are ’emergency measures only to be used in extremis and for the shortest time possible’.

The scheme would be triggered once congestion on the approach roads to Dover reaches eight hours, and deliveries to supermarkets fall below 75% of the schedule for two consecutive days.

Thousands of lorries were backed up in Kent in the days before Christmas when France blocked trade across the Channel due to a mutant variant of coronavirus spreading through the UK.

Defra said ‘the potential for further disruption remains high’ due to the pandemic and new border processes and procedures resulting from the end of the Brexit transition period.

The document went on: ‘The combination of these unprecedented factors is likely to contribute to delays at the border which could, in turn, prevent the speedy return of empty goods vehicles to the EU where they can collect more food.

‘Such delays are likely to have a direct impact on the UK’s food supply.’

Defra is also proposing to fast track Gibraltar-bound groceries, as it relies on the UK for about half of its food supply.

British Retail Consortium director Andrew Opie said problems which had resulted in a shortage of some food products following the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31 had 'just about' been overcome. But he told MPs there could be fresh difficulties in April

British Retail Consortium director Andrew Opie said problems which had resulted in a shortage of some food products following the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31 had ‘just about’ been overcome. But he told MPs there could be fresh difficulties in April

It comes as Food and Drink Federation chief executive Ian Wright today expressed concern about the potential for delays at the Channel ports as the numbers of lorries making the crossing picked up over the coming months.

‘It will get worse. Currently volumes across the short straits are at about 2,000 lorries. They should be around 10,000. So the opportunity for the scale of concerns to rise is huge,’ he said.

British Retail Consortium director Andrew Opie also issued a warning over disruption to goods crossing the Channel, saying ‘it will get worse before it gets better’.

He said he is on watch for any impact this week and onwards, with British businesses ‘still not 100% prepared’ for the changes as the French step up customs checks.

Meanwhile, Kent Police has revealed it has issued more than 407 fines to HGV drivers who failed to obtain a valid Kent Access Permit before entering the county.

A further 152 HGV drivers have breached traffic regulation orders, including attempting to bypass Operation Brock.

Assistant Chief Constable Claire Nix of Kent Police said: ‘Whilst the majority of HGV drivers travelling to Europe via the Port of Dover or Eurotunnel are entering the county with a valid Kent Access Permit in place,

there are still too many who we are having to stop, fine and turn back to their point of origin.

‘If this trend continues then it could potentially lead to traffic disruption here in Kent, where the volume of freight is expected to increase significantly over the next few weeks.’

The Home Office has been approached for comment on the queues for paperwork. 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here