End of EU transition period

Kent Resilience Forum response 

The 1st January 2021 marked the end of the EU transition period, bringing with it changes to the way businesses operate and how we travel to the continent.

 

As well as leaving the EU single market and customs union, the coronavirus pandemic means anyone travelling from the UK must have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of travelling. These rules by the French government are expected to remain in place until January 6.

 

Although the government now has an agreement with the EU, it is vital that our businesses and residents understand the changes tomorrow will bring.

 

The Kent Resilience Forum (KRF) is working closely with its partner agencies and Government departments, including the Department for Transport, HMRC and Defra to manage the local response to  end of the transition period. We have been supporting the government by helping businesses get ready for the new trading agreement – deal or no deal there were always going to be things businesses would have to change.

 

We have also been working hard with government and local partners to prepare traffic management in Kent for any disruption at the Channel ports.

With these plans in place, Kent can remain as open as much as possible with the current coronavirus restrictions, and our priority is to keep traffic and goods moving and to ensure people can go about their lives as normally as possible.

 

Preparing for potential disruption

 

Through the KRF, we worked alongside the Department for Transport, Highways England, and Kent Police to agree a single plan, Operation Fennel, to minimise the impact and we’re confident in those plans to minimise disruption. We are, however, still urging people to ensure they’re ‘border ready’ and both tourist and HGV traffic should be prepared for queues.

 

Please make sure you check your route before you travel and take food and water and any medicines you need in case of traffic disruption.

 

Coronavirus testing before travel to EU

 

Coronavirus restrictions mean  that anyone leaving the UK for Europe must ensure they have a negative test taken within 72 hours of leaving the country. If you don’t, you will not be able to travel.

Check an HGV is ready to cross the border (Kent Access Permit)

 

Hauliers should use the government’s Check an HGV is Ready to Cross the Border service and get a Kent Access Permit if they plan to travel via Port of Dover or Eurotunnel. If you are not intending to leave the UK, you do not need to get a Kent Access Permit.

Traffic management plan

 

Operation Brock, the Highways England traffic management system on the M20 is now in operation meaning both coastbound and London bound carriageways are open for use, even if Operation Fennel is stood up.

 

Operation Fennel is a series of steps that can be escalated to deal with traffic should there be issues at the port or Eurotunnel, starting with TAP on the A20 holding up to 200 lorries; Brock M20 holding up to 2,000 lorries; Manston holding up to 4,000 lorries; TAP A256 holding up to 450 lorries; and Sevington holding up to 1,200 lorries.

 

Ebbsfleet International and Waterbrook will be used to manage HMRC customs clearance.

Compliance

Temporary powers have been granted which will act as a deterrent to any HGV driver not following the traffic management, meaning we can clamp and fine those drivers which we hope will ensure that compliance is greater, meaning key routes on Kent’s road network are kept clear.

 

HGV drivers can be fined £300 without a Kent Access Permit when travelling through Kent ports, or if using a fraudulent declaration.

 

Though we have worked hard on traffic management plans in conjunction with our partners, we cannot guarantee there will not be a certain amount of freight turned back from the Port of Dover, Eurotunnel or from the Manston or Sevington sites if paperwork is not in order.

 

If this is the case HGV’s are expected to return to their base of operation but it seems more likely they would simply move onto the local road network and wait to become ready – these powers help highlight that this is not acceptable.

 

Travel updates

 

In the event of disruption to the transport network, businesses and residents should visit the below social media sites for up to date information and travel advice:

Getting prepared

You need to act now if you’re:

 

Get the complete list of what you need to do for you, your business and your family.

COVID travel guidance

 

Before travelling abroad via Eurotunnel or port of Dover please check the latest travel guidance to ensure you are following the latest rules, restrictions and travel requirements.

You must have tested negative for coronavirus (COVID-19) up to 72 hours before you cross the border into France. 

Freight (HGV) traffic

Non-freight traffic

www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/france

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Kent Resilience Forum

Kent Fire and Rescue Service HQ

The Godlands

Straw Mill Hill

Tovil, Maidstone ME15 6XB