Brexit: Plans for roadside toilets for hauliers trapped in Channel port queues ‘still unknown’

Permits row also means it is still unclear if drivers will be able to bring over food from the Continent after 1 January, inquiry told

Lorry drivers still in the dark about whether there will be Portaloos in Kent for Brexit queues

Ministers have failed to set out plans for roadside toilets for hauliers trapped in huge queues for Channel ports in just five weeks’ time, an inquiry has heard.

Truck-drivers say they are still in the dark over promises made last month – amid alarming predictions of thousands of vehicles being forced to park up on choked motorways in Kent.

“They cannot confirm what will be provided,” Adrian Jones, of the Unite trade union told a House of Lords committee.

The warning came as the Road Haulage Association said it still did not know if a single driver would be able to bring over food and other goods from the Continent, after 1 January.

“There is no allocation of permits at the moment – and there is no backup deal at the moment,” warned Duncan Buchanan, the organisation’s director of policy.

It is nearly six weeks since Rachel Maclean, the transport minister, told MPs there were detailed plans” for temporary toilets and other facilities in Kent, and other counties.

But Mr Jones suggested confusion over roads that were the responsibility of Kent County Council – while the new lorry parks are run by the government.

“We urgently need to know the locations and the facilities available,” he told peers, to allow drivers to “make appropriate choices”.

Later, Ms Maclean admitted that “some details are still to be worked out”, while insisting “the great debt of gratitude” owed to lorry drivers would be met.

“Those plans are being developed, we do take them very seriously and we do intend to have adequate facilities for drivers,” she told the Lords EU Goods sub-committee.

Ben Rimmington, the Department for Transport’s co-director of road safety, insisted it would be possible to install temporary toilets – even alongside motorways.

It would be unsafe for drivers to “get out” if traffic was “moving slowly”, he admitted, but toilets could “be deployed” if their vehicles were stationary for some time.

Exporters face two-day delays to reach France after 1 January, with 70 per cent of trucks not ready for new checks, creating the risk of queues of up to 7,000 lorries snaking through Kent.

Ministers plan to ease the pressure by ordering hauliers to obtain what has been dubbed a “passport for Kent” – an access permit to enter the county – with £300 fines for those with the wrong paperwork.

A mountain of  new red tape will be needed – even if a trade deal is reached – including a movement reference number for each product, a safety and security declaration, an export health certificates and phytosanitary certificates.

The disruption is expeced to build in the first two weeks of January, but could last for many months should France rigorously apply full passport checks on hauliers.

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