FTA – Calais blockade highlights threat to UK trade

According to the Freight Transport Association (FTA) the Calais blockade of cross channel ferries by local fishermen this week has highlighted the impact on the UK’s trading relationships from disruptions of cross-Channel traffic after Brexit.

The blockade on Thursday took place with no warning, and caused significant disruption to cross-Channel freight movements.

Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association said: “We had no pre-warning of today’s action, so as a result we were unable to warn our members of what was happening. By the time it hit the newswires, truckers were already on their way to the port.”

2.6 million vehicles pass through Dover every year, or 20% of the UK’s trade according to the FTA.

Pauline Bastidon, the FTA’s head of European policy, said: “The Calais-Dover route is a vital one for the successful passage of trade between the UK and continental Europe, and any delays at the ports have a knock-on effect which affect the country’s ability to continue trading effectively.”

Bastidon added that two minutes of processing per truck could cause queues of more than 17 miles out of Dover.

Burnett also highlighted the risks to hauliers sitting in queues at Calais. “Our concern is that the ensuing backlog will have turned them into sitting ducks for migrant activity. These people, desperate to reach the UK by whatever means possible, must have thought that all their Christmases had come at once. We fear greatly for the safety of drivers as lives and livelihoods are put under threat. We strongly urge any driver caught up in this action to stay safe: keep the doors locked and do not leave the cab.”