Published: 18:11, 19 June 2018
| Updated: 18:35, 19 June 2018
A special task force has been set up to study the impact of Brexit on Dover.
It will look at effects on roads through possible increased border controls and highway investment.
Dover DistrictBrexit Taskforce is chaired by district council leader Keith Morris.
He said: "Brexit is coming and we need to be prepared.
" Whilst the key decisions will be taken at a national level it’s important that decision makers are aware of the implications locally.
"The aim of the Taskforce is to influence decision making, prepare local services, lobby for increased investment in infrastructure, and seek out any opportunities that Brexit presents, and most importantly toput the people of Dover and the wider district first.”
A key area the Taskforce will look at is knock-on effects of increased border controls and port waiting times on local roads and communities including air quality.
There have been consistent fears of lengthened lorry queues, for instance if there are longer customs checks.
The group will also look at the need for investment, such as by duallng the A2, improving the M2 having enough lorry parking.
It will also identify opportunities for new technologies to help create a frictionless order and maximise opportunities from Brexit including freight forwarding jobs.
It will strive to keep up working relations with local authorities in the Pas-de-Calais district and look at any effects on port health.
Dover District Council is the port health authority for the Port of Dover, responsible for monitoring the safety of imported food which is not of animal origin, infectious disease control, ship inspections, food safety, and hygiene standards and general public health within the Port District, which also includes the Channel Tunnel.
Cllr Morris, said: “Port Health is one area where the council will itself have to make key decisions depending on what the final deal looks like.
"With a hard border there would need to be a much more rigorous inspection regime which would mean more resources.”
Dover, just 21 miles from Continental Europe, is expected to be in the spotlight in the run-up to the UK formally leaving the European Union next March 29.
The Taskforce will also try to made sure negative perceptions created by Brexit do not cause problems for the district's inward investment and tourism.
Cllr Keith Morris concluded: “We’re currently seeing record levels of investment across the district as investors and developers recognise the strength and potential of our location.One of the key aims of the Taskforce is to champion the message that Dover is open for business and will always extend a warm welcome to visitors from Europe and beyond.”
In the coming weeks and months, the Dover District Brexit Taskforce will be taking evidence from organisations, including groups representing hauliers, businesses, and the local community.
The group includes Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke and South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay who is also a member of the Commons Select Committee on Exiting the EU.
Other members are Cllr Mark Dance, Kent County Council cabinet member for economic development:Richard Christian, head of policy and communication at the Port of Dover, and John Keefe,director of public affairs of Channel Tunnel operatorsGetlink.
This was Groupe Eurotunnel, renamed last November.
Remaining members of the Taskforce are from the district council, chief executiveNadeem Aziz and head of inward investment Tim Ingleton.
The cross-party group EU.Thinking Deal + Dover has been set up to raise concerns about possible effects of Brexit.
A meeting it held last month heard that there could be miles of queues of lorries into Dover and the Channel Tunnel after Brexit if there are no alternative customs arrangements after Brexit and checks have to take longer.
Just the day before the Taskforce was announced members of EU.Thinking demonstrated outside the DDC offices in Whitfield toraise concerns.
Group member Ben Bano now said: "We welcome this new task force but we still have to draw attention to concerns.
"We have to draw attention to the potential traffic chaos and damage to the local economy in Dover district in the event of a failure to reach agreement on streamlined customs arrangements afer Brexit.
"We know that even a delay of a few minutes in processing freight leads to long delays and tailbacks stretching many miles."
Dover is Europe’s busiest roll-on/roll-off port with 27.3 million tonnes of freight and more than 11.7 million passengers passing annually.
Eurotunnel accounts for a further 21.3 million tonnes of freight and 10.4 million passengers.
The district council says that nowhere else in the UK can handle this type and volume of traffic.
The Port of Dover, ferry operators, the Channel Tunnel, and related industries are major employers in the Dover district.
More by this authorSam Lennon