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Using car park at Ebbsfleet International as Brexit check point for lorries costing £100,000 a month


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The government has had to pay £1.8 million in rent and other costs for using a car park at Ebbsfleet International Station to carry out customs checks on lorries.

Most of that sum has been paid to the high-speed rail operator HS1, which agreed to a government request to allocate part of the car park as a testing and inspection area for hauliers on route to the Channel ports.

A customs check point for lorries has been set up in the car park at Ebbsfleet International railway station. Picture: Nick Johnson
A customs check point for lorries has been set up in the car park at Ebbsfleet International railway station. Picture: Nick Johnson

Most of the overall figures for the arrangement relate to rental charges for the parking area, which had previously been used for Covid testing.

The government identified Ebbsfleet as one of several Inland Border Facilities it planned to operate after Brexit.

The site operates round the clock and opened on January 1 as a "last resort" for truckers travelling to Europe.

Invoices published under government transparency regulations reveal six-figure sums, with most being charged against the account of “Borders Design to Delivery” - the internal group dealing with post-Brexit issues.

However, monthly rent of £136,561 is not the only cost to the taxpayer.

Part of the car at Ebbsfleet International had previously been used for coronavirus testing. Picture: Chris Davey
Part of the car at Ebbsfleet International had previously been used for coronavirus testing. Picture: Chris Davey

Other invoices were recorded for the purchase of “modular boards” at £174,192, along with security costs at £124,178. One invoice records a payment of £339,939 for "transit site" costs.

An HMRC spokesperson said: “In July 2020, the government committed to spending £470m on new border infrastructure to support ports in building extra capacity where there is space to do so, and, if necessary, to build additional inland sites across the country.

“We will continue to monitor spends associated with the inland border facilities and will work to ensure they provide value for money.”

Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite said he was surprised at the costs but the site was fulfilling an important role.

“They [HMRC] would probably argue that given the billions of pounds worth of trade that depends upon it being free flowing, these investments are actually quite small.

"HMRC might argue that getting these four or five sites, if it costs 10 million quid to do it, then that's probably worth it.”

The costs of operating the Ebbsfleet site follow the revelation that HMRC is also paying millions in rent for the Waterbrook lorry park at Ashford.

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