The Port of Dover faces the prospect of ongoing delays this summer following a weekend during which a critical incident was declared and travellers faced 11-hour delays.
French authorities said the delay was due to an “unforeseeable technical incident” in the Channel Tunnel which stopped French border police getting into Dover.
However, Dover chief executive Doug Bannister said the port had been “badly let down” by the French who man border controls in Dover, BBC reported.
Freight operations were reported to be facing 5.5-hour delays to the EU and three-hour delays into the UK on Friday, according to the Loadstar.
“With the beginning of the summer holidays upon us, we predict these delays will likely remain over the weekend, and possibly into next week,” said Andrew Austin, group operations director at Priority Freight.
Today (Monday 25 July) Toby Howe, the senior highway manager at Kent County Council and the tactical lead at Kent Resilience Forum, said the queues at Dover were “normal for a Monday morning”.
P&O Ferries tweeted at 10.20am that “traffic is free-flowing into the Port of Dover with wait times at border controls currently under 45 minutes”.
However, there are fears queues could build up again next weekend, one of the busiest of the year for holidaymakers.
‘Stop blaming Brexit’
The Telegraph reports that French politicians blamed the problems on the introduction of passport checks under Brexit rules.
Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor and Tory leadership candidate, said: “The situation needs to be urgently addressed by the French. They need to stop blaming Brexit and start getting the staff required to match demand.”
While Brexit “didn’t help,” according to Richard Ballantyne, chief executive of the British Ports Association, “in this case it isn’t really a Brexit issue. Immigration and those controls existed while we were in the EU. It is a consequence of a post-Covid rush”.
Among proposals were calls for the government to introduce an online system in which passport details could be entered before people travelled.
‘Invest in lorry parks’
Ministers have been told to urgently “grasp the nettle” and invest in new technology and lorry parks near Dover to prevent a repeat of the weekend’s travel disruption, reports the Times.
Ballantyne told Channel 4 that the UK government has not invested in the physical infrastructure at ports “which would help improve these bottlenecks”.