UK reveals new ‘Kent passport’ plan for truckers to prevent Brexit gridlock

Government sets up permit system monitored by surveillance cameras aimed at stopping chaos at roads leading to busy ports

Haulage companies have criticised plans for a new surveillance operation designed to prevent the southeast of England being transformed into a huge lorry park when the UK ends its close trading relationship with the European Union.

Truckers will need a new permit before they are allowed to enter the county of Kent to prevent queues of up to 7,000 trucks with longer border checks expected to cause major congestion from 2021.

Kent, in the southeast corner of England, is closest geographically to the UK’s biggest trading partner, the European Union.

Thousands of trucks travel through the county every day to the busiest cross-Channel port of Dover.

Under the new plan, truckers will have to obtain permits or face being turned back from the county, known as the Garden of England, by police monitoring network of cameras at key points on the road network.

Michael Gove, the government minister responsible for planning for life outside the EU’s structures, outlined the ‘Kent Access Permit’ system in parliament.

It is being prepared for use after January 1 when the UK will leave the bloc’s customs union and single market and increase paperwork needed for international trading. The resulting chaos could leave thousands of lorries waiting up to 48 hours to reach Dover.

But truckers say that permits will simply be issued if drivers say their paperwork is in order without follow-up checks, making the whole exercise pointless.

Duncan Buchanan, of industry body the Road Haulage Association, said: “It’s an honesty box system. It’s not an effective system to actually guarantee or ensure that someone is ready to cross the border.

“It doesn’t do that. It is just a logging system for someone to say ‘I am going to the port and I promise I’m ready’.

“It doesn’t really do much more than that.”

The plans are being prepared in case of a failure to secure a post-Brexit trade deal by the end of the year. EU negotiators are in London this week for informal trade talks but the two sides remain deeply divided over key issues.