Calais crisis: quick-to-market routes for food

By John Wood

- Last updated on GMT

200 trucks a day would be given priority by police
200 trucks a day would be given priority by police

Related tags Scottish government Channel tunnel

As plans for ‘quick-to-market’ routes for vehicles carrying key consignments, including fresh produce, get under way in Kent, the Scottish government’s fisheries and food secretary Richard Lochhead has urged the UK government to continue to push for a long-term solution to the situation in Calais.

Scottish government officials, including Transport Scotland, will hold further talks with industry stakeholders today on long-term potential alternative routes to market, following recent disruption and delays at the Channel Tunnel and Port of Dover.

Lochhead said: “Introduction of a ‘quick-to-market’ pilot is a major step forward and we will assess its effectiveness in co-operation with Scottish exporters in the weeks ahead.

​A fast-track for fresh produce and other key consignments is real progress, but there is still a need to have a contingency plan in the case of continued disruption and delays in Calais.

‘No end to the complex situation’

“With no end to the complex situation at Calais yet in sight, I am keen that the Scottish government continues to investigate alternative route options for Scottish businesses and holiday makers.

​Further talks are in place bringing together stakeholders from the food processing and transport sectors to discuss next steps.

“Despite the situation at the Channel Tunnel and Port of Dover, Scotland is very much open for business and we should take this opportunity to consider how various transport systems, including Scotland’s network of ports and airports, can play their part in mitigating the difficulties we have seen.

“The situation in Calais remains difficult and requires a multi-agency response involving both the UK and French authorities.

​The Scottish government remains particularly concerned about the humanitarian situation in relation to migrants and will urge the UK to play its part in a co-ordinated and comprehensive EU plan of action in order to deal with the serious and pressing issues around the migrant crisis.”

Kent Police agreed to pilot a filtering system which would identify loads such as fresh fruit, livestock, shellfish and emergency medicines and route them directly to the Port of Dover or Channel Tunnel without queuing on the M20 or in the newly-designated lorry parking area at Manston Airport.

Maximum of 200 trucks

It is anticipated that a maximum of 200 trucks a day would be given priority by police on production of a CMR declaration (a standard contract of carriage for goods being transported internationally by road) detailing the cargo. Goods that could deteriorate in quality will be fast-tracked.

Any hauliers providing misleading information about their cargos would be escorted to the next junction and would have to join the back of the queue. Kent Police said the scheme would be scrapped if it was abused.

The move was revealed alongside the announcement that the disused Manston Airport at Ramsgate would be used to supplement Operation Stack on the M20 in an effort to ease congestion on the motorway and surrounding roads.

Related topics Supply Chain Chilled foods

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