Inland border facility on the white cliffs of Dover
The Government has stated that only a quarter of the Guston site will be utilised for border facilities. Work to prepare the site will start only next summer. Another site in Dover will have to be found for animal checks, as the land has an aquifer under the chalk making it unsuitable for the holding of animals.
The Parish Council have notified residents of further decisions about the IBF (Inland Border Facility aka lorry park) site on the White Cliffs, as follows.
Further information that we have which I am happy to share with all our residents is the following:
- The Cabinet Office has now undertaken a review of costs and feasibility on all IBFs in Kent. The Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed that they remain committed to an Inland Border Facility at the White Cliffs site and the decision has been made that the site will still go ahead.
- The site, however, will be significantly smaller than that of the original projection. Estimation is that the site will be a quarter of the size, and development will happen at the western side of the site. We have been provided with no information as to what will happen to the other three quarters of the land on this site.
- Anticipated number of HGV’s visiting this site daily has now been estimated at 1,000, with the expectation that this will tail off over a period.
Animal checks will no longer be carried out there
- DEFRA and all checks in relation to animals will no longer be carried out at the White Cliffs site and an alternative location is currently under negotiation in Dover. We have asked where the location is, but they are not at liberty to inform us at this stage. Our Parish Clerk has contacted the DfT today and asked for further information as to why DEFRA has pulled out. We have been informed that the site has unsuitable geological features. The substantial levels of chalk along with the fact that the site sits on top of the aquifer has resulted in the undulating nature of the site being deemed unsuitable.
- The SDO covered the planning consent for temporary inland border facilities until 25th December. We have now been informed that this site will no longer be temporary but long term. With that in mind we assume the Government will simply enter an amendment to the SDO legalities to cover this change.
- The DfT will be passing over the management of the design to HMRC which will be the department using the site for border checks. We are still awaiting a conclusive site design.
- There is no current timescale at this point, but the DfT would expect construction to commence next Summer 2022.
- There is a question mark over whether the North Downs Way will still need to be redirected. Again, we are awaiting further clarity.
- We have also raised concerns over the lighting impact that the residents of Sevington are experiencing and we have been assured that the mistakes made at this site will not be replicated at the White Cliffs site.
- The DfT have stated they are still committed to engaging with all parties including residents as soon as they are able to provide greater clarity on the future of the project.
Civic leaders issue press statement
Natalie Elphicke MP, our DDC leader and our KCC leader, have released a press statement dated 2 July. This promotes a Win-Win for Dover, stating that they have achieved the necessity for two key border sites at Dover. The press release omits the information that DEFRA has withdrawn from our site, and that only a quarter of the area will now actually be used. The DfT has spent millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money purchasing this vast piece of agricultural land in Guston and they now find themselves needing to do so again.
1. How animal checks are to be carried out is still in question. Are these the checks on the transport of LIVE animals?
The Conservative manifesto pledged to ban live animal transport, though further investigation reveals that some exchange of breeding animals with the mainland of Europe (the EU) will still be required. Welfare standards for such valuable animals are higher than for the sacrificial lambs, with requirements for rest and watering. So it is indeed a puzzle as to where in Dover such provision for live animals will be located.
Border checks put off?
2. HMRC are to be in charge of the Guston reduced site for “border checks.” As the HMRC site at Sevington deals with outgoing commercial traffic, presumably the Guston site is to provide for incoming traffic. Trade checks are not being made currently as the UK Government decided to forgo these post-Brexit in order to stage their implementation, as facilities and staff were not ready. Since the start-date for works at Guston is the summer of next year, can we assume that the trade checks are postponed again until the end of next year?
One site or two?
3. The Press release from the Conservative MP Natalie Elphick, the leader of KCC Roger Gough, and the leader of Dover District Council heralds these decisions about locating two new border facilities at Dover as a win for local jobs and investment.
4. But KBL has already published articles voicing the concerns of residents about the loss of green land and the traffic problems of the Guston site. The Conservative County Councillor for Guston ward actually identified a more suitable site further away along the A2, but it would still need roadworks. This proposal does not now get a mention.
Green Party statement
The Green Party has issued a statement which makes these points:
- The site further along the A2 would be preferable, as there are already plans for roadworks between the port and the Retail Park, which will make it impossible to install the access road to the Guston site and keep the traffic flowing;
- This more suitable site would create the same number of jobs for residents of Dover;
- KCC Department of Transport notified the public in March that they will take over the Dover–Guston works from the national government; a decision that was opposed by the Green county councillor as the cost should not be thrust upon the ratepayers of Kent.