Calais transport crisis ‘should not be repeated’: FTA

By Gwen Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

Calais chaos: the FTA has called for action to avoid a repeat of last summer's travel disruption
Calais chaos: the FTA has called for action to avoid a repeat of last summer's travel disruption

Related tags: Transport, Fta

Further disruption at the port of Calais should not be allowed to cost businesses – including food and drink exporters – millions of pounds, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has urged. 

The FTA said its five-point plan it published this year could help remedy the travel chaos seen last summer.

FTA’s EU affairs manager Chris Yarsley said: “The economic importance of the Port of Calais must not be overlooked – it is a vital trade link which handles £89bn worth of UK trade every year.

“Disruption caused by demonstrations and the thousands of migrants camped out near the motorway leading into the port can’t be allowed to happen again.”

Disruption witnessed last summer’

“FTA is concerned about a return to the disruption witnessed last summer in the Calais area, and is once again planning to support the freight and logistics industry should there be a repeat performance of scenes we saw last year in and around the French port.”

Industrial action at the French port last summer resulted in striking French ferry workers blocking the port. Queues of lorries were caused on both sides of the channel and many migrants tried to board lorries waiting to enter the UK.

It was estimated that cancelled sailings and interrupted Eurotunnel crossings cost the transport sector £21M. Millions of pounds worth of fruit and vegetables were dumped, after deliveries were delayed or tainted by stowaways, said the FTA.

Earlier this year the FTA announced a five-point plan to help prevent a repeat of the transport crisis last summer, which it urged UK and French authorities to adopt.

Relocating the migrant camp

The measures included relocating the migrant camp away from the motorway and Eurotunnel facility to deter migrants from trying attempting to board commercial vehicles and trains.

Other proposals included: securing the Port of Calais and Eurotunnel facility against incursion by migrants and declaring the areas off-limits to industrial protests. See full list below.

The FTA staged a demonstration at the port on May 7 to help avoid another “summer of discontent​” and frustration for logistics firms and holiday makers.

Meanwhile, FTA head of policy for Wales Ian Gallagher called for the Welsh government to “remember how crucial logistics is to Wales.”

Gallagher said the government needed to improve road infrastructure, increase support for utilising rail freight and alternative fuels for lorries and introduce free-flowing tolling on the Severn Crossings.

FTA’s five-point plan to avoid Calais transport chaos

1. Move migrant camp away from the motorway and Eurotunnel facility to deter migrants from trying attempting to board commercial vehicles and trains

2. Secure the Port of Calais and Eurotunnel facility against incursion by migrants and to complete the secure parking zone in the port area for use by operators

3. Highlight to the British and French governments the need to maintain the juxtaposed border controls and invest in police and security arrangements to guarantee that drivers’ rights to safe passage through the port are respected

4. Support registration of migrants and processing of asylum claims by the French authorities to legitimise and control those camped out around Calais

5. Declare the port of Calais and Eurotunnel facility as off-limits to any industrial protests

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