Dover could suffer 20-mile traffic jams
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.