How post-Brexit traffic could damage the Port of Dover

White Cliffs of Dover

The famous White Cliffs of Dover

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The coastal town of Dover is home to Europe's busiest ferry port, but as Brexit looms, how will the area be affected?

Representatives from the Port of Dover, which is the second busiest port in England,  have already warned of serious traffic congestion in the town and surrounding areas unless the government can negotiate a deal involving frictionless trade.

The Port of Dover's head of policy, Richard Christian, told the Guardian that in the event of a hard Brexit, "regular gridlock" could occur in Kent, causing disruption to freight traffic on ferries and Eurotunnel services.

The government have already made contingency plans in an effort to deal with the potential traffic problem, with a stretch of the M20 in Kent set to be used as a temporary lorry park if queues begin forming at Channel ports post-Brexit.

The plan, dubbed Operation Brock, would allow southbound traffic to continue in both directions on reduced lanes, with lorries held in line before the border.

Operation Brock is the successor to Operation Stack, a traffic control measure which was implemented in the summer of 2015, when industrial action in Calais led to lorries being parked on the M20 for 21 days.


'Humanitarian problems'

Cargo trucks wait to embark ferries in front of the White Cliffs at the Port of Dover

Councillor Nigel Collor from Dover District Council has warned of "humanitarian problems", as well as implications for the town's elderly residents if traffic problems become a regular occurrence.

Speaking to talkRADIO's Alex Dibble, Cllr Collor said: "We had a situation here at the end of July, which is the big school holiday getaway, and it wasn't freight traffic then, it was tourist traffic. In other words cars, coaches and caravans, and they just couldn't get through. The Port couldn't cope with them quick enough. There was no problem at the Port, it was just purely the volume.



"Bus services were suspended or cancelled because they couldn't get through, taxis gave up coming to this part of the town where we are now, if the life boat had been called out the crew would have had great difficulty getting to the station, and above all, carers couldn't get to the people that need their help.

"They could be delivering anything from dressings for wounds to daily medication, and if you've got an elderly person they look forward to their carer coming it's part of their daily life. And of course you can get disappointed elderly people, it's just not acceptable to the community.

"If it goes on for longer you've got to think about the other humanitarian problems like water, toilet facilities, food. Somebody's got to come up with all that."


'Doomsday scenario'

Lines of traffic queue to enter the port of Dover 

Local business owner John Angell, of John Angell Jewellers, has claimed if business grinds to a halt due to people bypassing the town, there'll be "no point in staying in Dover anymore".

"Nobody will be able to get into the town and nobody will be able to get out of the town, so people will bypass it all together," he told Alex Dibble.

The jewellers began in Dover in 1930, and Mr Angell has run it since 1973.

"If we get a doomsday scenario with a total breakdown of trade and blockage, there'll be no point in staying in Dover anymore," he said.

"All I can do is hope and pray that a Brexit, some sort of agreement is made. I'm sure it will be, because the French can't have a total breakdown their side of the Channel and we can't have a total breakdown our side of the Channel as well.

"I think there's a great deal of uncertainty across the whole town, across the whole region, as to the effect that Brexit will have."