The new post-Brexit customs area was scheduled for completion by 1st January 2021 – the day Britain officially leaves the EU.
According to official sources, heavy rain has caused delays to the works, which now mean the customs side of the scheme won’t be ready until late February. It’s not like it doesn’t rain in the UK during Winter, so how did the planners manage to make a right mess of this? Brexit has been on the cards for years, yet our customs post will not be completed for 2 months after leaving the EU is a huge embarrassment.
Lorries will still be held on the Sevington plot if there is disruption at the ports, but HMRC checks of HGVs will now take place at the nearby Waterbrook Park estate, which is further from the M20.
Local MP Damian Green confirmed that only the customs side wouldn’t be available from 1st January, meaning lorries will still be held at the new park.
Waterbrook has been listed as a ‘back-up plan’ since October but is now stepping into the frontline for customs operations. The change will mean more freight traffic across Ashford and across junctions surrounding the Orbital Park estate – including the busy ‘McDonald’s roundabout’.
Some European hauliers have already said that they will avoid sending trucks to the UK from January, for fear that their fleet will end up being stuck in lorry parks, instead of moving freight and earning money. From the signs of this mess, sadly it seems like they might be making the correct decision.
Locals, who were already unhappy with a new lorry park in their area, are now going to suffer further with more HGVs on their roads.
One person, we spoke to said that they were no confident that the new lorry park would even be completed by February “Has anyone reminded the Government that February is a short month and 2021 is not even a leap year?”
Another grump person added, “If a bit of rain has caused problems with timings, goodness knows what will happen if we get a few snowflakes landing in Kent!”.