Blog: Government details how it plans to manage Brexit freight through Kent in 2021 – Kent Live

A new document discussing the government’s plans to manage freight at the Port of Dover has been released – but details are still thin on the ground.

The Border With The EU document begins to set out how hauliers and drivers from the UK and abroad will have to change their processes once the EU transition period ends on January 1.

Due to disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, moving to the new regime will be split across three phases, with completion pegged for July of next year.

The document confirms the Sevington site near Ashford may be used from January 1 as a “temporary traffic management facility” for holding lorries in the event of disruption at Dover and the Eurotunnel.

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It also confirms the government is exploring whether the facilities for full border control checks could be implemented at the Sevington site from July 2021, and that the Department for Transport is considering acquiring a further site in the Dover area to act as an additional “multi-functional” site – but the location of this site has not yet been confirmed.

Potential uses of a new Dover site could include customs checks, market surveillance checks, and checks on animals, plants and some foods.

Rumours of a lorry park site in Dover have been rife in recent weeks, but the local authority has been left in the dark over where it is likely to be located.

Where ports have space to build on-site, they can apply for one-off financial support from the government to ensure the correct infrastructure is in place through the Port Infrastructure Fund.

Land around Sevington in Ashford
(Image: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

However, documents presented as part of a Dover District Council cabinet meeting last week confirmed that neither the Port of Dover or Eurotunnel had the space available to build these new facilities.

Last week we reported on the meeting, in which the council agreed to write to minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove seeking “urgent clarity and funding” regarding the government’s plans for customs activity in the Dover district and whether their additional duties would be funded by central government.

The district council’s Labour group, led by Cllr Kevin Mills, is raising a motion during next week’s full council meeting calling for more transparency from both district council officers and from the government itself.

Cllr Mills says this lack of detail is simply not fair on residents, who currently have no idea how these proposals could impact them.

‘We’ve got to be honest with the electorate’

He explained: “The Labour group have had no discussion, consultation or information as to where this proposed site could be.

“If it’s going to be big enough for 1,200 lorries I imagine it could be the B&Q support centre backing on to Guston, but we’re guessing.

“There’s been a complete lack of discussion on it, we don’t know anything officially.

“I can’t think of any other sites that could be big enough, but this is the problem, because nobody knows people are adding up two and two and making five. That’s not fair on the residents of the district – they need to know.

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“The government can bypass planning laws and just build it, not taking into consideration any concerns from the public.

“I’ve been asking for a presentation on our readiness for the European Union exit for months, but all we’ve had is a couple of lorries coming down from Manston.

“It’s our responsibility to tell our residents, this is the potential plan and the best and worst case scenario so they are informed.

“When we turn round to residents and say we don’t know anything, they don’t believe us. What have we got to fear about telling people what we know? We’ve got to be honest with the electorate.”

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