No-deal Brexit measures at Portsmouth port would be 'overwhelmed' by unprepared lorry drivers

MEASURES brought in to stop motorway gridlock in Portsmouth under a no-deal Brexit would be ‘overwhelmed’ with hundreds of lorries turning up to the port without the right paperwork.

By Neil Fatkin
Wednesday, 25th September 2019, 11:22 pm
Updated Tuesday, 1st October 2019, 10:15 pm
A briefing by the Department for Transport has revealed up to 400 lorries a day could be arriving at the port without the correct paperwork - bringing the city to a standstill.
Picture: Tony Weaver.
A briefing by the Department for Transport has revealed up to 400 lorries a day could be arriving at the port without the correct paperwork - bringing the city to a standstill. Picture: Tony Weaver.

The warning comes from chief officer Neil Odin who has told the government its new prediction of 75 per cent of the up to 500 lorries arriving at Portsmouth port would not be allowed onto ferries bound for Europe.

Authorities have been scrambling to be ready if Britain crashes out the European Union on October 31, having built a lorry park at Tipner West and prepared checkpoints near Winchester.

They fear the M275 would back up onto the M27 and brought in the measured under Operation Transmission - but say the Department for Transport has not provided enough cash for the £100,000 a week running costs of the measures.

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Land at Tipner West in Portsmouth where preparations were being made in the event of a no-deal Brexit in case it affects Portsmouth port. The site is now complete. Picture: Portsmouth City Council

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Writing to communities secretary Robert Jenrick, Mr Odin said: ‘The critical development has been the inclusion of an assumption that 75 per cent of laden HGVs arriving at the port will not be border-ready and so will need to be turned around: this is a major challenge.

‘This information was not available when Op Transmission was developed.

‘We believe that our contingencies may quickly become overwhelmed should this assumption prove to be accurate, particularly as in the DfT modelling.’

A lorry carrying freight cargo disembarks from a Brittany Ferries service from Caen to Portsmouth International Ferry Port on January 08, 2019 in Portsmouth, England. Picture: Leon Neal/Getty Images

Portsmouth City Council has spent £1.13m to run a traffic management plan and create a new lorry park in Tipner.

Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson attended a briefing from the Department for Transport about the situation.

He told The News: ‘What’s really worrying is that we are now being informed that the likely traffic problems will be significantly worse than first thought.

Council leader, Gerald Vernon-Jackson, has said a briefing from the Department for Transport has revealed the impacts of Brexit on the city's port are expected to be 'significantly worse' than first thought. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (010919-2)

‘They have informed us they estimate 75 per cent of lorries will now turn up without the necessary paperwork to get onto ferries.

‘On average we get 500 lorries at the port each day which is going to mean around 350 to 400 lorries will be blocking up the surrounding roads.’

In the letter, Mr Odin criticised the DfT for their previous traffic modelling which he said did ‘not incorporate of local traffic flows’ and included ‘other unrealistic assumptions’.

He also criticised the government for not providing ‘requested financial support’ for the original leave date in March which led to the city council having to use its own budget to put measures in place.

The government has given £1.25m for the plans. And on Saturday it announced Portsmouth, Southampton, Plymouth, Poole and Newhaven would share £1.75m.

Secretary of state for housing, communities and local government Robert Jenrick told Channel 4: ‘I am not sure exactly which letter that is but I have been very engaged in the question of how local areas can improve their readiness for no deal.

‘We have actually done a huge amount of work over the last two months.

‘I will obviously work very closely with the council. We have given them additional resources both for infrastructure, for the local resilience forum and for the council.

‘We believe we have given them sufficient resources.’

A DfT spokesman said: ‘If hauliers have the correct documentation, disruption at the border should be limited.

‘We have implemented a major campaign to ensure hauliers are able to operate and trade can continue to move as freely as possible between the UK and Europe.

‘We have also announced a £30m fund to ensure ports are ready for Brexit on October 31, alongside a £77m fund to councils and Local Resilience Forums to assist their preparations.’