Dover Truck Park 'not in talks with Department for Transport over a 1200 vehicle customs clearance site at Whitfield

A temporary customs clearance site, to keep traffic flowing through Dover after Brexit, would have to be 10 times the size of a present facility nearby. That's the insight from freight forwarding company Priority Freight, owner of Dover Truck Park in Whitfield which has customs clearance capabilities for 150 vehicles in a 24 hour period.

Priority Freight's Truck Park in Whitfield already hopes to expand for post-Brexit customs clearance but it's not in talks with the DfT. Picture Google Maps

Bosses of the Menzies Road facility say they are not party to talks by the Department of Transport to provide a huge site for an anticipated 1200 lorries before the transition period ends on December 31. Neither, they say, do they know where the planned facility will be built after Whitfield was suggested as a possibility.

But the company, which has undergone recent expansion, is applying for an external temporary storage facility(ETSF) from HMRC in the current warehouse to increase its capacity.

Its director Stuart Stobie said: "The application is for a temporary remote customs facility away from the docs which would remove some foreseeable congestion at the ports and provide a facility giving us more control and visibility to clear our customers critical freight transport movements." The DfT remains tight lipped about the location of the planned site while talks are ongoing.

Lorry trailers. Picture: Ant Clausen, Peel Ports

It is believed to be on land near to White Cliffs Business Park. The department has not outlined if the existing truck park is part of its plans for the Dover facility.

Mr Stobie said: We are not working with the DFT."

Dover MP Natalie Elphicke told the Mercury: "A couple of possible locations have been mentioned to me for the transition plan, as some of the sites are still subject to commercial confidentiality restrictions, not all aspects of the pan are in the public domain yet." Both Dover District Council and Kent County Council say they are unaware where the clearance facility could be because neither authority is the owner of the land in question.

"To give you some scale we would need to have a truck park 10 times the size of the current one to clear 1200 vehicles if they all arrived at once..."

Work has already begun on a gigantic facility in Ashford and Manston Airport has been earmarked for an overspill park to cope with the anticipated flow of lorries once Brexit comes into play. The way customs clearance sites work is parcels or goods on the lorries that require customs inspection have to be offloaded and stored in the facility.

Priority Freight's expansion plans have been drawn up "to continue to provide the fastest and most reliable time-critical services to customers post Brexit." Mr Stobie said "There are no additional structural requirements. "In the short term we have plans to continue to upgrade the current truck park facilities, we aim to be the truck park of choice for the crucial requirement of secure UK in and outbound resting points for drivers.

"We have agreed with Dover District Council to take over some offices recently vacated at Whitfield Court, these will give us better facilities, space for growth and allow us to work and continue to grow in a safe and socially distanced manner during these challenging times." Capacity of its truck park has recently been boosted by approximately 30 spaces due to increased demand. He said: "To give you some scale we would need to have a truck park 10 times the size of the current one to clear 1200 vehicles if they all arrived at once.

"What you are talking about would require a secure transit from port to clearance site and facilitate a queuing point for vehicles entering the country. "I can only think of Manston as a potential site but the practicality due to the distance from the port would be of concern." Head to our politics page for expert analysis and all the latest news from your politicians and councils.

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