Essex County Council asked for clarification over Brexit lorry concerns
Politics / Mon 5th Oct 2020 am31 09:10am
By BBC Local Democracy Reporter
ESSEX County Council has been asked to explain the impact for drivers across Essex in light of the Government’s announcement that hauliers could need permits to enter Kent.
It raises the possibility of extra infrastructure having to be put in place at key entry points, including the Dartford Crossing, which prior to Covid-19 was reporting around 150,000 vehicle crossings each day.
Goods vehicle drivers could be given their own travel pass to avoid congestion at Folkestone and Dover after the Brexit transition ends.
Essex county councillor Ivan Henderson’s concerns come after the Government disclosed to the House of Commons that special Kent Access Permits will be needed to get into the county.
The scheme is being devised to help avoid queues of up to 7,000 trucks seeking to cross the English Channel after the UK leaves the single market and customs union at the end of the year.
Kent County Council’s corporate director for transport, Barbara Cooper, has stressed there will be no internal border in Kent, amid fears around the planned departure from the European Union at the end of December.
Her comments came during a Kent County Council meeting this week after concerns were raised by councillors about contentious plans requiring lorries travelling to and from Europe to have special Kent Access Permits to get into the county.
Ms Cooper said: “There will not be physical border checks coming into Kent.”
Instead, Kent County Council is working with east Kent hauliers to give them a separate permit to make sure they do not get “caught up” in lengthy queues on the M20 and other main roads around Dover.
Speaking to the council’s transport committee, Ms Cooper said: “They will be given a pass that enables them to bypass those queues, so hopefully this would not stop the economy of Kent.
“What we are trying to do is make sure we don’t have ‘unready’ trucks coming into Kent that then will serve to increase the congestion.”
On Wednesday, Cabinet minister Michael Gove set out the measure as the Government aims to avoid a “reasonable worst-case scenario” which would see queues of up to 7,000 trucks crossing the English Channel from 2021.
For the Kent Access Permit, hauliers will be told to upload their paperwork and will then be given a green, amber or red pass to show whether they can progress onto the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel.
However, councillors have raised questions about the scheme’s impact on potential travel disruption and curtailed movement of goods in Essex.
Cllr Henderson said: “Are police going to be used to turn lorries around? Do we have the resources for this?
“What size freight do you have these permits for?
“What about a local business that is waiting for parts and they are being held up because they haven’t got permits to go to Kent?
“No one seems to know the answers to these questions.”
A series of questions from Cllr Henderson to Essex County Council asked what will be the impact on traffic travelling into Kent, but also the impact on roads around Harwich.
“Can I ask the portfolio holder, given the Government’s announcement this week that hauliers will require Kent Access Permits to drive lorries into Kent, what will be the impact of this for the Essex-Kent border, including implications for the costs of infrastructure and additional policing as well as any possible consequences for residents and commuters?” he has asked transport portfolio holder councillor Kevin Bentley, ahead of a full council meeting later this month.
He also repeated his concerns of an increase in heavy goods vehicles using Essex highways and Harwich International Port, if there are substantial delays to thousands of freight vehicles using the Port of Dover.
He said: “I can’t believe that ECC has not had any correspondence from any Government department over this and why are they not speaking about this? Why are they not publishing it? Why are they not having an open discussion about this?”
More information on this now: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/oct/08/plans-inland-border-sites-cope-brexit-congestion "The government says it will be putting new infrastructure in place at Ebbsfleet international station in Kent, North Weald airfield in Essex and Warrington in the north-west." "Essex county council said: “HMRC is proposing to use and operate North Weald airfield as a common transit convention (CTC) site. This is not a lorry park, but a customs facility which enables exporters to defer paying duties when importing goods into Europe. We expect HMRC to engage stakeholders, including local residents, shortly as part of its planning application under special development order legislation. The site will operate alongside other inland border sites in Kent for up to two years.”" "This is not a lorry park" - so lorries will not be parking there, right?