Blog: Roadside portable loos planned for lorry drivers delayed by Brexit checks – The Guardian

The government is to install portable toilets on roads in Kent for lorry drivers whose journeys could be delayed for up to two days in the event of traffic congestion post-Brexit.

Rachel Maclean, a parliamentary undersecretary of state in the Department for Transport, said sanitary facilities would also be provided on roadsides elsewhere in the country.

Government modelling suggests that in the reasonable worst-case scenario there could be queues of up to 7,000 trucks as a result of new checks and controls in Dover and Calais.

Maclean told MPs on Wednesday: “We have detailed plans that we’ve worked up for provision of not only Portaloos but other facilities for drivers, and not only in Kent, should it be necessary, should there be stationary traffic, but also in a range of other areas throughout the country, because we really want to minimise the impact on those drivers who are already working really hard.”

The comments prompted jokes on social media that Kent would be turned from the “garden of England to the toilet of England”.

But the plans will be welcomed by the haulage industry and by residents of Kent who for years have been lobbying for toilet and shower facilities for drivers who legally are obliged to pull over for rests but have no truck stops to go to, unlike in France.

The Conservative MP Karl McCartney told the transport select committee of a “proliferation of bottles that look like they’re filled with Irn-Bru but they’re not” discarded by truckers on laybys.

Maclean told the committee that her department was working flat out to mitigate the impact of Brexit on truckers and residents, but “there are going to be a number of unknown unknowns”.

Brexit talks are due to continue despite Boris Johnson’s self-imposed deadline of 15 October for a deal.

Maclean admitted that the government had only a tiny fraction of the 33,000 international driver permits needed for hauliers if the talks collapse.

The committee heard that there were 8,000 haulage firms in the UK involved in EU transportation, with 39,000 trucks. Maclean said the UK had only a fraction of the permits needed for hauliers to operate legally in the EU in the event of no deal.

“The UK has up to 1,668 annual and 5,040 short-term permits available for 2021,” she said. “We know that that is not adequate for all of the UK drivers driving to the EU, but it is just one option that we would look to rely on in the eventuality that we’re not able to agree a more widespread access arrangement.”

The Road Haulage Association said the lack of permits would be devastating to all trade, with 33,000 licences needed, according to the traffic commissioner’s report. It also pointed out that the temporary permits were valid for just one month.

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