Brexit gridlock warning

July 27, 2019 10:48 am

Ferry companies have warned of gridlock around ports, as they confirm they will not allow trucks to board ferries after a no-deal Brexit, unless they have the right paperwork.

Each day, around 10,000 lorries pass through Dover, which handles 17% of the UK’s goods trade, worth more than £120bn.

“If a truck doesn’t have the right document we cannot board him. We cannot take lorries across that cannot enter the country,” said Gert Jakobson, a spokesman for DFDS, which transports 1.2 million trucks between Dover and Calais and Dunkirk each year.

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The ferry operators believe that there’s no point in boarding vehicles without correct documentation in the UK, because French customs will not allow them to proceed,”

And, because the expectation is that many trucks will turn up without the right documentation, it will result in tailbacks of trucks on the UK side of the channel.

“For a period of time, for a few weeks and months, we assume the problems will be bigger. There will be more who are not yet accustomed to the paperwork. There will be a learning curve and then we believe it will work much better,” said Mr Jakobsen.

“If you have a constant stream of lorries that don’t have the right documentation and it may take anything from 24-48 hours to get that documentation, potentially you’ve got a whole bundle of trucks and nowhere for them to go,” said the other source.

Jean Marc Puissessau, the president and chief executive of Port Boulogne Calais, also expects ferry companies to deny boarding in the UK to trucks without the right paperwork.

“If hauliers don’t have documents they won’t be allowed to board. This was the rule on 29 March. Those same rules will apply on 31 October,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said: “There are well-developed plans in place to manage any traffic disruption in Kent in the event of a no deal scenario, keeping the M20 open with traffic continuing to flow in both directions.

The Dover Harbour Board CEO Doug Bannister said “the Port of Dover, as with our sister ports in France and our ferry partners, are prepared for the 31st of October.”

And his Calais counterpart Mr Puissesseau, had pointed to the construction of new customs facilities and vehicle holding pens at the French port, saying “there will be no delay” on the French side.

But research by Imperial College London, suggested just two minutes of extra check times at UK borders could result in queues extending up to 30 miles from Dover into Kent.

As of June 2019, two thirds of the relevant UK firms had still not applied for an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number, which they would need to trade with the EU after a no-deal Brexit.

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