MPs have warned ministers that unless a new law is introduced to speed up road building around Britain’s ports, the South East could face traffic chaos after Brexit.
A group of MPs representing port constituencies met with a Brexit minister last week to argue the case for a Brexit Infrastructure Bill, which would speed up planning processes to make sure the Port of Dover and the Channel Port avoid the possibility of serious gridlock resulting from more stringent border controls.
Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke, treasurer for the pro-Brexit European Research Group, first laid out the plans in April in a report called Ready on Day One, detailing how Britain’s ports can prepare for Brexit – especially under a no-deal scenario with the EU.
Elphicke argues that for economic success after Brexit, the Lower Thames Crossing will need to be built sooner than the current timetable of around 10 years away. He also sets out the case for widening the M20, upgrading the M2 and dualling the A2, and building the M20 lorry park for vehicles.
Plans for the lorry park were recently graded as red by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority in its annual report, meaning that unless action is taken soon, the project could be scrapped.
“Too often vested interests get in the way and it takes years to build the simplest road. Yet we have less than two years to get ready. That’s why I’m campaigning for a Brexit Infrastructure Bill,” said Elphicke.
“We need a powerful new law to speed through administrative processes to enable vital projects to be delivered on time.”
In 2015, strikes by French ferry workers led to 4,600 lorries queuing for 48km. Elphicke said some have warned of an “armageddon scenario” at the Port of Dover if a deal is not finalised with the EU, with heavy gridlock blocking trade across the channel.
The Department for Transport has been contacted for comment.