The Port of Dover has an urgent need for more space, and expanding inland is out of the question thanks to the famous White Cliffs.
So the only way is out to sea. Plans are now well advanced to add a hectare or two to accommodate queues of cars as their occupants wait to be processed by French immigration officials post-Brexit.
This summer witnessed very long waits at peak times as British holidaymakers made their ‘getaways’ to the Continent.
But the situation will soon become much more challenging as Europe takes back control of at least some of its borders and introduces its long-delayed Entry/Exit System. This will make the ‘wet stamping’ of passports redundant and rely entirely on digital controls.
First-time users of the system will need to supply biometric information, including iris scans and fingerprints. Once registered, travellers will be examined on entry to the EU in much the same way that E-gates are used at UK airports. These machines are already evident at many European airports, including Nice, where they remain shrouded for the moment.
Needless to say, the potential for horrendous queues is considerable. On its busiest day this year, on July 29, 800 cars arrived every hour, causing tailbacks along roads through the town of Dover and beyond.
Doug Bannister, the Port of Dover’s CEO, said that the port had been planning to reclaim land for cargo use, but now these plans are being brought forward and work could start as soon as next spring.
Word ‘on the street’ is that France will wait for the Paris Olympics to finish before introducing the digital processing system.
FILE PHOTO: Vehicles offload from France at the Port of Dover Reuters