Dover could suf­fer 20-mile traf­fic jams

The Guardian - - NEWS - Lisa O’Car­roll Brexit correspondent

Dover will face per­ma­nent traf­fic jams stretch­ing 20 miles from the port from March 2019 un­less Theresa May agrees to the EU’s pro­pos­als for a Brexit tran­si­tion pe­riod, the or­gan­i­sa­tion rep­re­sent­ing the ship­ping in­dus­try and ports has said.

David Din­gle, the chair­man of Mar­itime UK, said lorry driv­ers could be stuck on the main ap­proach roads to Dover for up to two days if there was no deal for a tran­si­tion.

Re­fer­ring to po­lice pro­ce­dures put in place to pre­vent grid­lock on Kent’s roads, Din­gle said: “You could have a per­ma­nent Op­er­a­tion Stack for 20 miles, it [the traf­fic] will just sit there.

“Driv­ers can be stuck for days, it [Stack] can be horrendous,” he said re­fer­ring to a Stack op­er­a­tion in 2015 when long stretches of the M20 were closed for 24 days, with food left to rot on the mo­tor­way shoul­der.

Ports and busi­nesses have been call­ing for years for im­prove­ments on the M20, which reg­u­larly suf­fers from con­ges­tion, and Mar­itime UK fears this will worsen as the gov­ern­ment bat­tles to unite over its Brexit vi­sion.

“We are lost in pol­i­tics,” Din­gle said. “The melt­down will come back to the roll-on, roll-off ports. We are shout­ing loudly about this, we have been for a while, but you do feel you are bang­ing your head against a brick wall.”

He said it was not just the £100bn-ayear mar­itime in­dus­try that would be af­fected by de­lays, but also busi­nesses such as Ja­panese car man­u­fac­tur­ers who rely on “just in time” car part de­liv­ery from the con­ti­nent.

Con­sumers and shops would also be af­fected, with half the na­tion’s food com­ing from the con­ti­nent and Ire­land. “Our mes­sage is: please, gov­ern­ment, can you do this as quickly as pos­si­ble be­cause if there is no tran­si­tion pe­riod the in­dus­try as a whole will be in trou­ble and the whole lo­gis­tics chain will be in ma­jor trou­ble,” he said.

Last week the EU’s chief Brexit ne­go­tia­tor, Michel Barnier, said the tran­si­tion was “not a given” after May laid down red lines on EU cit­i­zens com­ing to Bri­tain after March 2019 and the right of the UK to ob­ject to new EU laws dur­ing the pe­riod.

Din­gle said the French were ahead of Bri­tain in prepa­ra­tion for a no-deal Brexit, hir­ing cus­toms of­fi­cials for March next year for Calais.

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