A leading UK freight lobby group has urged the British and French governments to hold talks to ease miles-long backups at Channel ports that have been blamed on Brexit.
Trucks have faced queues of up to six miles (10 kilometres) this month on the approach to Dover — Europe’s busiest port for roll-on, roll-off freight — with tailbacks also reported in northern France.
Miles of stationary lorries all waiting to enter the @PoD_travelnews
Port of Dover. Dover Tap is still in force the A20 back to the Roundhill Tunnels Queue is under control of @portdoverpolice
Long delays. Very Slow Lorrs for Six Miles 🙂@KentHighways
— UK News in Pictures (@UKNIP247) (@uknip247) January 19, 2022
A number of factors have been blamed, including the UK government implementing further customs controls at the start of January, a year after the country quit the European Union’s single market and customs union.
Trucks now take longer to pass through Channel ports as their paperwork is verified.
“We’re urging both the French and UK governments to have constructive dialogue to ease the situation,” a spokesperson for Logistics UK, which represents an array of road, rail, sea and air operators, said on Monday.
“How much friction we will see in the system long term remains to be seen.”
The spokesperson added talks were “doubly important” because Britain is planning to implement new sanitary checks and passport control systems later this year, “which will undoubtedly add friction to the border transit and cause delays”.
Britain and the EU have been holding negotiations over post-Brexit issues, but they have been primarily focused on the complex situation in Northern Ireland.
The bottlenecks near Dover in southeast England have increased in recent months, with special traffic measures deployed on around half the days so far in January, including on Tuesday, according to officials.
Photos posted on social media in recent weeks have shown the lengthy lines of lorries parked up on one lane of the A20 dual carriageway approaching the port.
— Georg(e) H. Peters 🇩🇪🇪🇺 (@gehapeters) January 21, 2022
A Port of Dover spokeswoman confirmed officials had implemented the “well-established” traffic tools on its main approach road “on a number of occasions over the past week”.
She blamed the backlogs on “significant freight volumes”, several ferries being out of service for renovation and “external highway works impacting the port’s holding capacity” which come on top of further customs controls introduced on January 1.
A spokeswoman for the port of Calais in northern France, where there have also been reports of long queues, said there was “no problem of fluidity” there on Tuesday.