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Brexit and fewer ferries among the causes of high use of Dover TAP

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Post-Brexit customs checks, roadworks and ferries away for refit have contributed to Dover TAP being used 12 times in 18 days.

These factors have caused a swell of lorries trying to reach the Port of Dover lately, resulting in the use of the traffic control system on the coastbound A20.

Dover TAP in place. Archive photo: UKNIP
Dover TAP in place. Archive photo: UKNIP

A councillor has counted 12 occasions in the 18 days up to today (Tuesday) when TAP has been deployed. It was also in use for 33 hours on December 17 and 18.

He says it is causing disruption and is raising the problem at tomorrow's full council meeting.

And a Port of Dover spokesman said a variety of reasons have contributed to the measures being put in place - including high volumes of traffic.

They said: “Dover TAP has indeed been used on a number of occasions over the past week.

"In conjunction with managing significant freight volumes, several ferries are currently away on re-fit as is normal at this time of year.

A bird's eye view of Dover TAP looks like. Picture: UKNIP
A bird's eye view of Dover TAP looks like. Picture: UKNIP

"Also there are external highway works impacting the Port’s holding capacity.

"These recent supplementary factors, when added to the already increased time to pass through the Port following the introduction of further customs controls on January 1 2022, have led to the activation of Dover TAP.”

Since New Year's Day there have been stricter customs checks for good being shipped to the EU, which were not there before Britain left the organisation in 2020.

Dover TAP (Traffic Access Protocol) is meant to control the flow of lorries into the port when traffic is heavy to stop snarl-ups in the centre of Doverhere's how it works.

But the scheme doesn't always works as designed, causing congestion for locals, including on the other side of the port.

Cllr Nigel Collor
Cllr Nigel Collor

Cllr Nigel Collor, who represents the Whitfield ward, says the tailbacks are making it "extremely difficult" for residents to access nearby retail facilities.

He wants a "solution" to be found ahead of further increased border checks expected later this year.

He is asking the leader of Dover District Council, Trevor Bartlett, to provide answers during a full council meeting which will take place at 6pm tonight (Wednesday).

Cllr Collor is a former district cabinet portfolio holder for transport and his question is: “The A2 was heavily congested for many hours making it extremely difficult for our residents living to the east of the road to gain access to retail facilities in the town.

"Dover TAP was also in place on the A20 continually for nearly 33 hours.

"Of the 63 times that Dover TAP has been put in place since March, on 17 of these occasions the trigger point to consider bringing in the next stage has been reached.

"Will the leader advise what steps this council is taking to keep the pressure up on finding a solution once and for all, as well as what steps were taken after the TAP trigger points were reached as well as advising the next steps after TAP is full?”

The trigger point is at the Courtwood junction, by the Alkham Valley viaduct, he says.

The born and bred Dovorian told KentOnline: "I will welcome any information from Cllr Bartlett on what we are going to do

"We are not the highway authority but we have a duty to our residents.

"Just recently TAP has been on nearly everyday, 12 times in 18 days. I get emails saying, 'It's on again today, why?'

Aerial pictures from Google Maps show lorries queuing on approach to the port Picture: Google Maps
Aerial pictures from Google Maps show lorries queuing on approach to the port Picture: Google Maps

"I had one email from a resident in Whitfield who was stuck on Jubilee Way for one hour and 20 minutes in December. He was going to St James' to do some shopping.

"It's a concern for local people and it deters people from elsewhere; Capel, Whitfield and Deal coming in to Dover to shop.

"It is detrimental to our businesses."

The queues have become so extensive they can be seen on Google Maps satellite images.

Meanwhile, a lorry driver told The Independent he been snarled up in queues of up to 15km (nine miles) since full customs controls were implemented at the start of this month.

The haulier said they were subjected to checks of 15 to 20 minutes per vehicle needed to pass the new Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS) system.

One Dover area haulier, who did not want to be named, said: "We have to deal with the problem but we don't accept it. How long we are held up for is how long is a piece of string.

"Sometimes we can go straight through but other times we are held up. I don't see an alternative at the moment."

Dover TAP, on the A20 at Aycliffe, is brought in when there is a high volume of lorries waiting to cross the Channel.

It was first introduced in 2015 and while it is used a 40mph speed restriction, which applies to all vehicles approaching Dover via the A20, is introduced.

Lorry drivers are asked to remain in the left lane of the A20, from the Roundhill Tunnel outside Folkestone,, and queue until they reach the port.

The right hand lane is then left clear for local traffic to enter the town without lengthy delays.

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