Calais chaos: ‘Consider bringing in the troops’: FTA

By Alice Foster

- Last updated on GMT

The British and French government should consider enlisting the help of troops: FTA
The British and French government should consider enlisting the help of troops: FTA

Related tags Channel tunnel

The government should consider enlisting the British Army to end the traffic chaos on this side of the Channel, which is costing the freight industry millions and causing misery for holidaymakers, suggests the Freight Transport Association (FTA).

Urgent action was needed to end months of travel chaos, arising from striking French ferry workers and migrants trying to gain illegal passage to the UK, said the FTA, as food and vegetable hauliers and other drivers find themselves stranded in the “warzone” ​of Calais.

Hundreds of trucks remained stuck in queues on the M20 today (July 29), as part of Operation Stack, after at least 1,500 migrants tried to storm the Channel Tunnel and a man died last night.

Bringing the army in was one of the options that the British and French governments could consider because the situation was “out of hand”,​ an FTA spokeswoman told

‘1,500 migrants storm Eurotunnel complex’

“Last night we saw 1,500 migrants storm the Eurotunnel complex, it’s left one man dead. Something has got to be done,”​ she said.

“Our members have said previously that it’s like a warzone and it’s not being managed. All the time the migrants are able to shut the Channel Tunnel and cause disruption at the port, trade is being affected.”

She added: “What we are calling for is for the situation to be treated as an issue of national importance because it is affecting trade across the country.” 

The FTA welcomed an emergency meeting of the government’s COBRA (Cabinet office briefing room A) council this morning, which aimed to find answers to the deepening crisis. Earlier this week up to 2,000 migrants tried to break into the freight terminal.

An extra £600 was added to the journey of each truck affected by Operation Stack while travelling to and from Calais, estimated the FTA.

FTA verdict

“Last night we saw 1,500 migrants storm the Eurotunnel complex, it’s left one man dead. Something has got to be done.”

  • FTA spokeswoman

Impact on food deliveries

Asked about the effect on food deliveries, the spokeswoman said: “The impact is possibly greater for them because they have the risk of their loads being contaminated.

“If migrants get on board then that whole load has to be written off. If it’s time sensitive, and things like strawberries that have a limited shelf-life, those operators are being hit hardest.”

Damian Collins, Conservative Member of Parliament for Folkestone and Hythe, said the French authorities must do far more to strengthen security at the Channel Tunnel ferry terminal and at the Port of Calais.

“It’s partly a problem of enforcement by the French authorities,”​ Collins told BBC Radio 4’s Today ​programme. “I can’t believe they would be that lax about security at an airport or other sensitive installation. I also can’t believe we would allow this to happen on this side of the Channel.”

The travel chaos had grown from being a local problem to a national one, added Collins.

“Operation Stack has failed. We need a new plan. A national strategy to keep people moving that is good for freight, good for holidaymakers and good for my constituents in Kent,”​ he said.

Calais travel crisis at a glance

• £0.75M/day: estimated cost to freight industry of queuing trucks and spoiled produce

• £250M/day UK trade lost due to Calais disruption

• 2.5M freight vehicles a year pass between Calais and Dover

• 18,170 stowaways tried to reach Britain between January 1 and May 21 2015. Double the number for the same period last year

• 563 illegal migrants held or arrested at Port of Dover last year, compared with 148 in 2013

• 5,000 migrants in Calais in July 2015, up from 200 at start of 2014

• 400 more migrants arrive in Calais every week

Source: FTA

Related news

Show more

Related products

Carbon Reduction for Large Energy Users

Carbon Reduction for Large Energy Users

Content provided by ESB Energy | 12-Nov-2021 | Product Brochure

ESB Energy Business Solutions can help you meet your companies carbon targets by 2050. We offer a range of sustainable tailored solutions to reduce the...

1 comment

M20 Freight Backlog

Posted by peter baker,

the British government should be taking emergency powers to force ferry operators to sail out of Dover to other ports in order to clear the freight queues on the M20. This would effectively close Calais for a time pending a longer term solution and would have the beneficial effect of concentrating French minds

Report abuse

Follow us

Featured Jobs

View more


Food Manufacture Podcast

Listen to the Food Manufacture podcast