Brexit: Government admits it is not keeping track of Dover lorry delays

Ministers say port does not tell government how long hauliers are waiting for ‘security’ reasons

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Saturday 12 March 2022 11:29 GMT
<p>Queues have become a familiar sight in Dover </p>

Queues have become a familiar sight in Dover

The government has admitted it is not keeping track of how long lorry drivers are having to sit in queues at Dover thanks to new Brexit bureaucracy.

Hauliers going to the continent have been intermittently stuck in rolling tailbacks since the UK left the EU, with new paperwork and red tape causing major disruption to trade.

But ministers say they have not been monitoring the length of delays and that data collected by the port authorities cannot be shared with them for “security” reasons.

The Liberal Democrats have called for the introduction of a new waiting time standard so that no lorry driver is left waiting more than 20 minutes at the border.

Reports emerged this week of aid for Ukraine, including ambulances, getting stuck at the border because of new Brexit export rules.

In January the ending of a customs declaration grace period resulted in a six-mile-long lorry tailback on roads leading to the port.

Asked for data on the delays at Dover, which processes 75 per cent of all roll-on-roll-off freight arriving by ferry from Europe, parliamentary undersecretary of state for transport Robert Court said: “The Department does not hold data on the length of time spent by hauliers waiting to board a ferry at Dover.

“The Port of Dover operates a ‘turn-up-and-go service’ meaning HGVs will be placed on to the first available ferry when they arrive at the Port. There may be an occasion when hauliers have to wait which may be due to peak periods of traffic at the Port.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport added that “for security purposes, all data on waiting times is held centrally by the ports and it is at their discretion to publish this information”.

They said: “We work closely with the Kent Resilience Forum on its traffic management plans to ensure waiting times are kept to a minimum and that any delays are communicated to hauliers via the appropriate channels.”

But Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Europe Layla Moran said the situation was “absurd” and called for ministers to get a grip on the situation with new targets.

“At a time when people up and down the country are caught in a cost-of-living crisis, the Conservatives should be making trade easier. Instead, businesses are tangled up in red tape and lorries are stuck in tailbacks, including those carrying vital aid to Ukraine,” she said.

“We’re in the absurd situation where astronauts in outer space appear to know more about the length of the Dover tailbacks than our own government does.

“It’s about time ministers got a handle on the length of the lorry queues in Dover. The Conservatives must bring forward waiting time standards and publish regular figures so we can hold them to account. If the government has nothing to hide, they will have nothing to fear.”

The Independent has approached the Port of Dover for further comment.

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