This week, Minister Michael Gove advised the Commons that lorry drivers would need a Kent access permit (KAP) to get into the county from 1 January with “police and ANPR cameras [automatic number plate recognition]” enforcing the system.
British and foreign drivers who are travelling from depots in the UK will need to get a permit before they arrive in Kent if they intend to board a ferry or Eurotunnel train. The KAP is due to become operational from January 2021.
Under government plans revealed in a leaked document, KAPs will be issued to drivers who have completed all the paperwork necessary to board a ferry or Eurotunnel train to Calais.
Gove also wrote to hauliers this week to warn that if they do not prepare now for Brexit they could face queues of up to 7,000 trucks in Kent according to analysis of the potential disruption likely to be caused after the UK’s departure from the single market.
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) chief executive, Richard Burnett, said the industry “already knows” there will be queues in Kent as it had been pressing the government to take action for months.
He expressed fury that the government was trying to shift blame onto the industry.
“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?” said Burnett.
Duncan Buchanan, the group’s policy director for England and Wales, said the Kent permits were “useless” and “pointless” as nobody could enforce them.
The letter from Gove also warns of two-day delays for cargo travelling to the EU through Dover or Folkestone ferry or Eurotunnel trains in what it is describing as the “reasonable worst-case scenario.”
The letter has enraged industry leaders and the haulage industry, who have been requesting information about preparations they need to make as a matter of urgency for the past six months.
Both Logistics UK, which represents the freight industry, and the Port of Dover said the government’s efforts to shift blame for lack of Brexit preparations on to the industry was wrong-headed.
The RHA, meanwhile, said its meeting on Thursday with Gove was a ‘waste of time’ as it did not engage with the detailed actions needed to be taken.
Responding to the worst-case scenario document, Burnett said: “We’ve been consistently warning the government there will be delays at ports but they’re just not engaging with industry on coming up with solutions.
“Traders need 50,000 more customs intermediaries to handle the mountain of new paperwork after transition but government support to recruit and train those extra people is woefully inadequate.
“The answers to the questions that we raised in our letter to Mr Gove and subsequent roundtable meeting last Thursday still remain unanswered – and our concern continues to grow.”