The massive 66-acre Kent field which is being turned into a lorry park in the event of post-Brexit hold-ups at Dover is still ‘far from complete’ and will not be ready until February.
The development, next to Junction 10a in Sevington, Ashford was being constructed as the Government prepared for trade talks with the EU to end in a possible no-deal scenario.
Upon completion, the vast site is supposed to be used for HMRC customs checks, with an area available as a holding space for up to 2,000 trucks should delays arise for vehicles crossing the Channel.
But the new Kent lorry park remains full of mechanical diggers and is still not finished, while new French customs facilities at the Channel Tunnel and Calais have been finished for months, the FT reports.
Up to 1,000 trucks could still be stored on the land from January 1 as construction is apparently halted due to heavy rain.
Ashford MP Damian Green told KentOnline: ‘Because of the rain, they are going to stand up the nearby Waterbrook site and operate it as a common transit convention site.
The massive 66-acre Kent field which is being turned into a lorry park in the event of post-Brexit hold-ups at Dover is still ‘far from complete’ and will not be ready until February
But the new Kent lorry park remains full of mechanical diggers and is still not finished, while new French customs facilities in Coquelles (above) have been finished for months
The Pit Stop at the Eurotunnel, where lorries are checked before boarding the Shuttle Freight from France to Britain, is seen in Coquelles near Calais
The development, next to Junction 10a in Sevington, Ashford was being constructed as the Government prepared for trade talks with the EU to end in a possible no-deal scenario
‘HMRC activities that would’ve taken place at Sevington will be carried out there instead.
‘They’ve said it should be for a maximum of up to eight weeks from January – so it should be finished by the end of February. But they are committed to the Sevington site as the permanent base.’
The Department for Transport (DfT) has also rejected Freedom of Information requests for any assessment made on the impact of the lorry park to traffic, according to KentOnline.
Importers and exporters will have new paperwork from January 1 as the UK leaves the Single Market and Customs Union, regardless of any trade deal negotiated with the EU.
Much of the success of the new border operations will still depend on traders completing millions of customs declarations costing businesses £7billion in new red tape per year.
Channel Tunnel operator Getlink has predicted that traffic will keep moving due to an expected sharp drop in traffic after January 1, the UK temporarily waiving most of its customs checks and new French systems.
But economists claim that a lack of traffic queues on the M20 would hide a loss of trade because of insufficient customs agents to process millions of new declarations.
Ministers are worried about potential queues appearing as soon as the UK leaves the Single Market and Customs Union at 11pm tomorrow.
It comes as Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove this week warned of ‘bumpy moments’ resulting from ‘practical and procedural changes’ imposed after January 1.
DfT has been contacted for comment.
An officer moves a traffic block to close the access roads to the boarding gates at Calais
Upon completion, the vast site will be used for HMRC customs checks, with an area available as a holding space for up to 2,000 trucks should delays arise for vehicles crossing the Channel
British sausages and chilled minced meat will be BANNED in the EU from Friday under post-Brexit rules – but frozen will still be allowed
Fresh British sausages will be banned from being exported to the EU when the post-Brexit transition period ends later this week.
EU rules mean that after December 31 so-called ‘chilled meat preparations’, a category which includes raw sausages, will be prohibited from entering the bloc.
Chilled minced meat – both red meat and poultry – will also be prohibited but it is thought frozen products will still be allowed.
However, British sausage-makers will still be able to send their fresh produce to Northern Ireland after the UK and Brussels agreed to special arrangements.
Getlink has spent around £42million on new customs infrastructure on its Coquelles site in Calais, according to the FT.
Meanwhile Jean-Marc Puissesseau, president of the port of Boulogne and Calais, had to spend nearly £12million on new processes for trucks and buildings for checks.
For UK exports to the EU, lorry drivers whose customs paperwork is accepted by British and French authorities will go round a corner after disembarkation in France and get their number plates read.
Without stopping, each HGV will be given a green or amber sign and told to follow certain road markings depending on the risk assessment made by French customs officials.
The green lane goes straight to the motorway as now, while the amber lane is routed to an onsite lorry park with nine new inspection bays – where drivers will wait for checks.
John Keefe, director of public affairs at the Channel Tunnel operator, said: ‘Everything we’ve done is to build offline moments to do controls and inspection without disrupting the flow of the traffic.’
A similar system has been built at Calais for the bigger number of trucks using ferries, though drivers will be given their green or amber signals on an app while crossing the Channel.
For EU exports to Britain, the Channel Tunnel and the port will operate systems requiring just a barcode to show export declarations are in the EU systems and import declarations for UK systems.
At this ‘pit stop’, 20 trucks will be scanned at the same time as the existing dog checks to check for illegal migrants every five minutes, according to Getlink.
Any truck without the required paperwork will be routed out of the flow to a new facility with customs agents and 250 spaces for lorries to park up and fill in the paperwork.
On the UK side, however, there will be just minimal initial checks on imports into Britain because the facilities are not yet ready.
According to John Glen, chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, a lack of traffic queues on the M20 would hide a loss of trade because of insufficient customs agents to process millions of new declarations.
He predicted they would build once pre-Christmas stockpiles began to run short in February.