A parish council has vowed to challenge plans for a border control site on the edge of Dover.
People in Guston were reportedly less than thrilled to receive a letter on New Year’s Eve from transport minister Rachel Maclean informing them that the substantial greenfield site close to the White Cliffs Business Park had been bought for use as an “inland border facility”.
HGVs entering the UK via Dover will have their details checked there – a process made necessary by Brexit.
Although a DfT spokeswoman said further planning consent was needed and nearby residents would be consulted, diggers have already moved on to the site.
“We understand concerns about resulting disruption, which is why we are working with the relevant authorities and our principal designer to ensure the surrounding roads are not negatively impacted by increased HGV movements,” she said.
However, Guston Parish Council has written to residents, saying it was “actively working to prevent such a development” and taking legal advice.
“There has been no response to requests for detailed proposals from the DfT and our MP Natalie Elphicke has responded to residents’ concerns with a generic letter setting out her support for the proposal,” wrote Tracey Creed, chairwoman of the council.
A report in The Guardian told how Guston residents believed they had been betrayed and trapped by the “lies” of the government over Brexit and were angry at the lack of consultation on the White Cliffs site, which it is feared will effectively be a lorry park rather than a border control site.
However, their MP, Mrs Elphicke, has said: “The proposals to invest in Dover at a new border control point are an exciting and important strategic opportunity for our community.”
The DfT says the site is needed as the port does not have the necessary space for the required checks; it will have spaces for some 670 HGVs and it is expected to be expanded to conduct full border checks from July. There will be structures designed specifically to check on animals, animal products and high-risk foods.
It perhaps should not come as a surprise to many that Kent seems to be taking a disproportionate hit from Brexit arrangements, with border control sites also being developed at Sevington, Waterbrook, Ebbsfleet and Manston, the latter at least cited as only temporary.
CPRE Kent believes the burden should be spread across the country, with HGVs unable to enter the county until it is certain they can leave the UK on schedule.
This could entail lorries not leaving their depots until being given the all-clear and possibly holding sites being used should circumstances, such as bad weather and industrial action at the ports, change.
Monday, January 11, 2021