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Dover lorry queues 'sparked by Brexit checks' so long they can be seen from space
22 January 2022, 09:34 | Updated: 22 January 2022, 12:12
Queues of lorries backed up waiting to be processed at the Port of Dover have become so long the huge tailbacks can be seen on images taken from space.
Satellite images taken some time after March 2021 show enormous tailbacks of lorries lining roads around the port.
Now fresh delays at the port this month have been blamed on extra controls which have come into place following Brexit. Pictures taken on January 11 show huge queues of lorries lining up to be processed.
Multiple witnesses have also shared social media footage of the queues and blamed Brexit red tape for causing delays.
Port chiefs have urged the government to hold talks with the EU on ways to ease further checks set to come in later in 2022.
At the end of September, the European Union’s new Entry/Exit System (EES) comes into effect. Passengers from non-EU countries will have to carry out biometric checks at the border.
Doug Bannister, the chief executive of the Port of Dover told ITV: "I’m worried about EES" due to concerns over how the system would work with carloads of passengers.
Enormous queues of lorries up to 9 miles long began after new full customs controls came into force at the beginning of January. Checks needed for the government’s new Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS) system and other export paperwork are said to be the cause.
9km growing queue at the moment ..anything on your TV over there? pic.twitter.com/oRwg6UiHlG— Michael M. 🇨🇭🇳🇴🇮🇸🇱🇮🇬🇧 (@vivamjm) January 20, 2022
There was a queue of 7km leading up to Dover port on Friday morning, which would be clearly visible on up-to-date satellite images.
A driver posted a social media clip of a short queue of around 20 trucks at the port yesterday and wrote: "This is a short queue but none the less - will take many hours to board a ferry. Imagine the queues when they are ten miles long."
One courier told the Independent: "“It’s entirely Brexit – you can’t blame it on anything else but Brexit."
Earlier this month one witness who drove past the queues wrote online: "30km of lorry queues at Calais yesterday, the same at Dover. Seamless trade anyone?"
Another person posted a video of a car driving past a seemingly endless queue of trucks, writing: "Here’s the queues into Dover: who’d have thought having to process export docs at the border would create such delays."
And what happens behind is this . This is a short queue but none the less - will take many hours to board a ferry . Imagine the queues when they are ten miles long pic.twitter.com/mugHYKtW1J— ciaran the euro courier 🇪🇺🇮🇪 (@vanmaneuro) January 21, 2022
Two days ago one person said he had seen queues building up for the third day straight and had got caught among the lorries when the traffic built up to the point it took up both lanes.
"I know we’re all obsessed with the moral turpitude at the heart of government but please spare a thought for lorry drivers in the Brexit botch up on the road (A20) to Dover. Day after day long queues. Brexit isn’t “done.” It’s a mess," wrote Gavin Esler.
Another person asked: "Did I just correctly hear that there's been a 17 mile HGV queue at Dover almost every day since Jan 1?"
A Dover customs worker replied: "Correct, and 30km queues in Calais. I am a Dover customs account manager and it is absolute carnage. The sheer volume of red tape is baffling and the confusion grows everyday due to contradictory guidance from http://gov.uk and PortHealth. But we are doing our best!"
People involved in the operation have claimed it now takes between 10 and 20 minutes to process the required paperwork for every single truck.
Another person posted: "17km #Brexit lorry queue on the M20, but the govt have seemingly turned off the traffic cameras so you can't see it!!"
Simon Thomson tweeted: "It’s just pure coincidence that the none of the traffic cameras which show junction 11 on the M20 are working, while there are miles and miles of lorry queues into Dover, isn’t it. Isn’t it?"
National Highways has denied that traffic cameras showing the M20 lorry queues were deliberately switched off.
The images of HGVs at Folkestone which queued up at Dover were not showing on the agency's trafficengland.com site earlier this week.
National Highways admitted there had been a problem with some cameras but denied they had been out of action on purpose.
A spokesman said: "National Highways operates a 24/7 service. The cameras tell operators based in the region how traffic is performing so that we can deploy traffic officers to help road users needing our help."
A European trucker explained the reason for the delays in a thread online.
He wrote: "Just to clarify why the queues in and out of ports happen: It is not french customs
"The french regulate the traffic into dover as it’s the first point of call. The queues happen at check in because to get your boarding pass you need to submit your : GVMS T1 export MRN.
"To ... civilian staff working for the ferry companies. This takes 10-20 mins per truck.
"The pinch point of these queues - both dover and Calais are entering the port - in Calais first point of call is the ferry staff - present T1 MRN @ GVMS . (10-20 mins per truck) The queues up to this point is the longest.
"Once in it takes an hour or two to get into the lanes."
He then posted a picture of the queue and wrote: "This queue can take a few hours up to check in - 10-20 mins per truck . Paperwork processed by ferry staff acting as customs agents.
"And what happens behind is this . This is a short queue but none the less - will take many hours to board a ferry . Imagine the queues when they are ten miles long."
"Dover: First point of call : FR douane - then a massive queue round to check in - those processing your paperwork to travel. The french regulate the traffic . 10 lanes up to this point off roundabout into port. It’s what’s behind this that is the main issue ."
The added checks are feared to be "disastrous" for the already chaotic situation. One courier told the Independent he had been caught up in queues of up to 15km since full customs controls came into force at beginning of January.
The Dover TAP, a temporary traffic system to prevent a build-up in lorry traffic, was brought in amid tailbacks.
The TAP restricts all vehicles to 40mph, and lorries are made to queue in one lane until the queues clear.
Covid checks are also said to be adding to the delays.