Police Will Patrol The Kent Border And Fine Lorry Drivers Without The Right Paperwork After Brexit
Police may be asked to patrol a new internal ‘Kent border’ to check whether lorries heading across the Channel and into the EU have the right paperwork from January.
Michael Gove’s plan, designed to ease expected traffic jams in the county when the Brexit transition period ends, raises serious questions on how the neighbouring counties of Essex, East Sussex, Surrey and the Greater London region will be affected.
Cabinet minister Gove, who is in charge of no deal planning, confirmed in the Commons that lorry drivers would need a Kent Access Permit and could be policed at the county border.
“We want to make sure people use a relatively simple process to get a Kent Access Permit which means that they can proceed smoothly through Kent because they do have the material required.
“If they don’t have the material required, then it will be the case that through policing, ANPR cameras and other means we will do our very best to make sure his constituents are not inconvenienced,” he said.
The proposal came in Gove’s statement on a worst-case scenario for Britain when the transition period ends. He said the plan was to avoid high level congestion. The details were laid out in a consultation paper released on August 3.
PoliticsHome contacted the Cabinet Office but is still awaiting further details on how this would be policed and the potential impact for surrounding counties and their police forces.
The backlash against Gove’s statement was immediate, with the Road Haulage Association, RHA, saying they were extremely sceptical that the government was prepared and that haulage operators would be left “carrying the can”.
The government’s worst-case scenario plan estimates that between 30 to 50 percent of trucks crossing the Channel won’t be ready for the new regulations coming into force on 1 January 2021.
RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett said: “We already know this. It’s what we’ve been saying for many months. We know that traders and haulage operators will face new customs controls and processes and we know that if they haven’t completed the right paperwork their goods will be stopped when entering the EU.
“Mr Gove stresses that it’s essential that traders act now to get ready for new the formalities. We know for a fact that they are only too keen to be ready but how on earth can they prepare when there is still no clarity as to what they need to do?
“Government’s promises that the UK will be ready for business on 1 January are just a whitewash, and right now it appears that traders and haulage operators are being left to carry the can.”
The Kent Access Permit was included in a consultation on the legislative changes that would be needed to enforce Operation Brock, the traffic management system for Kent in the case of no-deal.
It explains that hauliers using designated roads in Kent leading to the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel must be in possession of a digital permit.
Each permit would be valid for 24 hours to cover a single trip. The government said police and Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency enforcement officers could issue penalties and fines to hauliers found heading for Dover or Eurotunnel without one.
Lorry drivers heading to Kent but not travelling internationally, would not be required to use the system.
Fines could be handed out on the spot with UK drivers having up to 28 days to pay. If a driver refused to pay, their HCV could be impounded.
Food and Drink Federation Chief Executive Ian Wright CBE said a delay of up to two days at the ports could mean shortages of fruit, vegetables and products of animal origin.
He ingredients and some food products would not arrive fit for human consumption.
He said: “The absence of clarity in certain areas including product labelling means it is too late for a lot of businesses to be fully ready for 1 January 2021. We are urging the UK Government to provide targeted periods of adjustment, and even amnesty, to minimise the impacts on manufacturers and UK shoppers.”