Brexit could create ‘almost-permanent instigation of Operation Stack’ across Kent

PUBLISHED: 12:52 31 July 2017 | UPDATED: 13:31 31 July 2017

Operation Stack

Operation Stack

2008 Getty Images

A report by consultancy firm Oxera forecasts the impact of increased border checks to be £1bn

Kent could become gridlocked by an “almost-permanent instigation of Operation Stack” if a Brexit deal sees greater regulation and enforcement measures at the Port of Dover, a report warns.

The document, produced by consultancy firm, Oxera, forecasts the impact of increased checks on traffic at the ports on the UK economy to be around £1 billion.

Bosses considered four scenarios, dubbed “degrees of frictionless”, as to how the type of deal struck between ministers and the European Union will affect the UK’s borders.

In the case of minimal friction, the report says: “While there may be some additional costs borne by businesses, the economic impact would be broadly negligible, to the extent that this scenario looks similar to the status quo”.

However, a high friction agreement, involving extensive regulation of products, combined with increased levels of enforcement, will lead to a significant increase in the requirements at borders, the report claims.

It adds: “The Port of Dover has called this scenario ‘Armageddon’, potentially leading to an almost-permanent instigation of Operation Stack — with extensive queues on the M20 and surrounding roads in Kent.”

Chiefs also point out that the proposed lorry park, set to hold some 3,600 trucks at Stanford, just off the M20, will not be open until 2018 at the earliest, after a judicial review hearing - not due to be heard until December - slammed the brakes on the project’s progress.

Several warnings have been made over the potential impact of increased friction at the ports, with the Tunbridge Wells-based Freight Transport Association calling on the government to put the issue at the top of its negotiating agenda with the EU, while also demanding talks are held with French president Emmanuel Macron, over fears he may move border controls back to the UK from across the Channel.

Despite the increased concerns, however, Brexit minister Steve Baker told MPs including Dover and Deal’s Charlie Elphicke earlier this month that ensuring Kent’s ports are ready for leaving the EU is “a clear priority for the government”.

Kent ground to a halt during the summer of 2015 as disruption in Calais meant Stack was implemented repeatedly, causing huge queues on roads across the county.

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