Published: 17:51, 13 January 2021
| Updated: 18:20, 13 January 2021
More than 400 fines have been issued to HGV drivers who failed to obtain a valid Kent Access Permit before entering the county.
Their aim is to help ensure any traffic disruption is kept to a minimum in the wake of the Brexit transition, with freight volumes expected to return to normal levels before the end of the month.
The permits confirm drivers have the right documents for EU import controls, and are valid for 24-hours.
Kent Police has noted that the vast majority of drivers do have one, but those who don't are being strongly encouraged to follow the rules
As of today, a total of 407 Kent Access Permit offences have been identified by traffic and vehicle examiners from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), who are working with the police
A further 152 HGV drivers were found to have breached traffic regulation orders, which include attempting to bypass the Operation Brock queue by accessing the M20 contraflow or using the A20 as an illegal shortcut.
Assistant chief constable Claire Nix is the chairman of the Kent Resilience Forum, a partnership of organisations including Kent Police, Kent County Council and Highways England that has been working closely with government departments to plan for any traffic disruption resulting from the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
ACC Nix said: "Whilst the majority of HGV drivers travelling to Europe via the Port of Dover or Eurotunnel are entering the county with a valid Kent Access Permit in place, there are still too many who we are having to stop, fine and turn back to their point of origin.
"If this trend continues then it could potentially lead to traffic disruption here in Kent, where the volume of freight is expected to increase significantly over the next few weeks.
"It remains very important that companies exporting goods via Kent ports know exactly what is required of their drivers before they start their journeys, which also currently includes a negative Covid-19 test result received within 72 hours of their planned departure to France.
"This test should be taken outside of Kent at one of the more than 30 haulier advice sites located around the country that offer them, where drivers can also receive free border-readiness checks.
"Those who obtain a valid Kent Access Permit and a negative Covid-19 test result before entering Kent will be fast-tracked past any queues to the ports.
"We in the Kent Resilience Forum have spent many months planning for the end of the EU transition period and we have appropriate plans in place to deal with any traffic disruption that may occur.
"We hope everyone planning to access the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel in the weeks and months to come also plays their part to help keep Kent moving."
You can apply for a Kent Access Permit at www.gov.uk/check-hgv-border, and this government site gives details on what HGV drivers need to do to get their Covid-19 test before leaving the UK for France.