Published: 16:00, 25 February 2015
| Updated: 16:36, 25 February 2015
April could bring a “perfect storm” for Operation Stack, Kent’s police chief has warned.
Eurotunnel begins exit checks on people leaving the UK at the same time as major redevelopment work begins at Dover Docks.
Chief constable Alan Pughsley said a contingency plan to limit disruption and delays was in place but there remained a risk as more traffic would be coming in and out of the UK.
It has emerged the most recent implementation of Operation Stack had cost the force £25,000 a day to police and involved hundreds of officers.
Mr Pughsley said three separate issues created the prospect of a “perfect storm” in April which could lead to widespread disruption.
“We have three issues coming together. We have the development of Dover docks; we already have more transport coming into the UK because of growth in the economy and exit checks are coming in that may or may not slow people down” - Chief constable Alan Pughsley
“We have three issues coming together. We have the development of Dover docks; we already have more transport coming into the UK because of growth in the economy and exit checks are coming in that may or may not slow people down.”
He said the port had been told it needed to have a plan to mitigate delays.
“The fat that we are working now with the Highways Agency, the Port of Dover, Eurotunnel and many others and have traffic management plans in place means we should get ahead of the game and the actions we have taken should mitigate the ‘perfect storm’ that I described.”
The chief constable was answering questions from Kent crime commissioner Ann Barnes on the issue at a meeting.
He said the police had successfully managed the recent period when Operation Stack was in place but had it gone on beyond five days the force would have faced “breaking point.”
And he warned it was difficult to persuade foreign haulage companies that they should stay away from Kent when it was in place.
“I am told that international hauliers are told to “get in the queue” because they want them to be on the first ferry out. We cannot influence that.”
Crime commissioner Ann Barnes: “For the first time in many years I do feel a little bit of confidence.
"Operation Stack has long been a thorn in the flesh of people who live and work in Kent. It has always been considered a Kent problem but it is now recognised as a national problem.
"All the partners are now working together and I have not seen that happen before.”
Eurotunnel has already warned that checks on passengers leaving the UK could cause disruption when they are introduced on April 8.
Kent County Council announced recently it was eyeing a site at Westenhanger, Folkestone, for a lorry park for 1,500 to 3,000 HGVs, as well as developing a series of smaller lorry parks that would be open round the clock.