Published: 20:42, 14 October 2020
| Updated: 14:27, 16 October 2020
Portable toilets are to be installed along the M20 and A20 for lorry drivers stuck in long queues caused by predicted Brexit border delays.
The government says it has drawn up "detailed plans" to line the route with loos before December 31 when cross-Channel transport will enter a world of "unknown unknowns".
Truckers and fed-up residents have long complained of a lack of roadside facilities in Kent, with verges continually being used as a toilet by those who simply have nowhere else to go during hold-ups and Operation Stack.
But now, as the government bids to get the county ready for the "reasonable worst-case scenario" of having to hold up to 7,000 lorries at a time, it has confirmed portable toilets will be set up.
Speaking at a committee on Brexit preparedness, a Parliamentary under-Secretary of State at the Department for Transport said it is "vital" the facilities are put in place.
Rachel Maclean MP said: "We have detailed plans for provision of not only Portaloos but other facilities for drivers - not only in Kent if there is stationary traffic, but also in a range of other areas.
"We really want to minimise the impact on those drivers who are already working really hard.
"It is absolutely vital we consider the welfare of drivers and hauliers as these are hardworking people.
"We rely on the haulage industry for a supply of critical goods and we must consider their welfare."
As well as toilets, the minister revealed temporary outdoor shower and washroom facilities will also be provided.
The huge site will be used for customs checks and as a holding area for up to 1,700 HGVs should there be disruption at the ports.
Earlier this month, former international haulage boss Geoffrey Cave-Wood told KentOnline he had been lobbying MPs to get permanent lockable loos installed on the A20.
He stressed that in his 60 years of industry experience, the county's current lorry parking problem was the worst he had seen anywhere in the world.
He said: “Having driven through the Middle East, Far East and Africa I can say there are better driver parking facilities in Egypt than the UK. We should be ashamed.
“They’ve obviously got a lot more land but the fact we’re seriously lacking toilet facilities for drivers is terrible.
“Fifty years ago in the UK, truck stops were not luxurious but they were available.
“If you had a factory without a toilet, you’d be shut down."
MP for Dover and Deal Natalie Elphicke said: “I have been working hard with Government to Keep Dover Clear and also to Keep Dover Clean. Many local people have been disgusted at the amount of littering and waste that turns up alongside our main roads. So I am pleased that the Minister has considered that importance of ensuring adequate provision is in place to reduce littering at the side of our roads and provide improved sanitary conditions. The Transport Minister recently visited Dover to see our area’s needs first-hand. I will continue to push for traffic to keep flowing through our area, and for the amount of littering to be reduced.”
The haulage industry is still awaiting news on the launch of revised software which will replace the current open customs arrangements for EU member states.
Bosses say they are being left in the dark and believe problems will instantly become apparent at the turn of the year.