Published: 11:12, 02 December 2020
| Updated: 12:05, 02 December 2020
The government department planning the post-Brexit Inland Border Point at Dover has been blasted for a continued “lack of transparency” towards residents who will be affected.
Householders in Dover Road and St Martin's Road, Guston, fear they will be ‘caged in’ when the new customs clearance site becomes operational in July.
With its entrance off White Cliffs Business Park, the field that will contain the facility backs on to the homes in Guston where villagers dread constant noise, glaring floodlights and a decline in air quality.
The criticism comes despite Transport Minister Rachel Maclean committing to work with authorities and residents on their concerns.
The pledge came on Monday when Dover MP Natalie Elphicke raised constituents’ concerns over pollution and traffic and she invited the minister to the Whitfield roundabout to assess the wider problems surrounding Brexit on our roads.
Ms Maclean answered: “I thank her and her colleagues in local government for engaging so closely with me, for putting on record their detailed concerns and for inviting me to the Whitfield roundabout to see for myself the problems that she identified in such detail today.
“I commit to working closely with her, her local government colleagues, her local district council and Kent County Council, and to listen closely to the concerns of the local community.”
“We feel that the site at Guston is a site of convenience for the Government who have left planning for this part of Brexit to the 11th hour...
But Dover Road resident Stuart Bishop said they still have not seen the Department for Transport’s plans. And last week Parish Council chairwoman Tracey Creed said the Special Development Order now placed on the land could diminish their rights to a thorough consultation in the rush to build the border point for July.
Mr Bishop said: “We have not been consulted at all and there continues to be a lack of honesty and transparency for their plans which we have not seen.
“We are still in the situation we were in before whereby we are not being consulted and anxious about what is coming.
“I note the minister said nothing about safeguarding our homes, brownfields or distance from our homes. Nor was there any mention of compensation if we are unable to sell our houses or if they decrease in value.”
A petition has so far collected 1,175 signatures and blasts the Department for Transport’s plan as “detrimental to village way of life”.
Natalie Elphicke said: “Engagement with residents is underway and I think it was to the Minister’s credit that the decision to consider the disused industrial site next to B&Q was communicated directly and quickly to residents.
“Many have contacted her and made their views known.
“As part of this process, the Department for Transport will prepare a stakeholder engagement report recording the views of those who provide feedback in the formal consultation process.
“I raised this with the Minster in the House of Commons last week and she has committed to listening to residents’ concerns as the proposals are developed further. This will include studies on traffic and environmental impacts.
“I am also engaging with residents and there is an upcoming meeting with Guston Parish Council and other elected representatives for the area to discuss this further.”
Tracey Creed chairwoman of Guston Parish Council said she is frustrated that a date to meet the MP hasn’t been arranged.
She said: “Mrs Natalie Elphicke is still failing to address the fact that this planned development will be in the wrong place. The site has been picked because it will save the Government the trouble of installing new utilities and also because the site is close to the Docks.
“There are other areas that could be explored a little further up the A2 which would not impact on people’s homes.
“GPC understands the need for an IBF but the site should be considered thoroughly and not just chosen in haste because the clock is ticking to the end of this year.
“GPC would like to know which other sites have been considered .
“We feel that the site at Guston is a site of convenience for the Government who have left planning for this part of Brexit to the 11th hour.
“Mrs Elphicke has failed to address the fact that it is not just litter and air pollution that the residents are concerned about, they have grave concerns about the devaluation of their homes, disturbance from the noise of lorries that will be accessing the site 24*7 and also how close to their doorsteps this development will be.Mrs Elphicke needs to physically come and stand next to these homes and get a feel of how this proposal will impact on the standard of living for the residents involved.We urge her to take the time out of her day to visit these properties.
“Unlike the site at Sevington, these homes will be so much closer to the IBF site.The size of the development will not allow for adequate space for the necessary screening to be put into place.
“GPC will continue to fight to prevent this development and to make sure the residents concerns are heard.”
Jane Dunford of St Martin's Road Guston agreed that communication with residents has been poor and said the people of Guston must be heard to stop them being walked all over.
She said: "Whilst we understand how important it is to keep traffic moving and prevent the townof Dover from being blocked,It Seems this is the only major concern, our plight is not being considered.
"We await a chance to actually be heard and informed of the detailed plans.
"I think it was to the Minister’s credit that the decision to consider the disused industrial site next to B&Q was communicated directly and quickly to residents..."
"The stress that this is causing on people’s lives is horrendous.
"At least be prepared to hear and discuss with the unimportant people, who with undemocratic legislation have been walked all over.
" What can be done for us? Give us the chance to be heard!"
Meanwhile further transition meetings were held last week with the minister by Mrs Elphicke and Leader of Dover District Council, Cllr Trevor Bartlett on the “Keep Dover Clear” strategy.
In addition, Kent County Council’s Gold Command officer Barbara Cooper and Mrs Elphicke spoke at a briefing session for local councillors about the transition planning work for the area.
Mrs Ephicke said: “We know only too well in Dover what happens when port lorry traffic backs up. Over several weeks and months we have been making sure that transition planning work takes account of our Keep Dover Clear strategy.
“My attention is firmly fixed on making sure that, whatever is happening at the Port, we can still get around our area and that we get more jobs and investment here too.”