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Government says release of information about how it will prevent post-Brexit congestion not in public interest

The government has refused to say what, if any, plans it has to improve Kent’s road network as a result of the impact of Brexit.

MPs and council chiefs have expressed disquiet over the repercussions that leaving the EU will have on roads and the potential for gridlock and congestion.

The Port of Dover has also registered concern, saying businesses were “crying out for certainty” ahead of departure.

Operation Stack between Junction 9 and 10 of the M20. Picture: Gary Browne
Operation Stack between Junction 9 and 10 of the M20. Picture: Gary Browne

A key issue is that hauliers could face lengthy delays as there would no longer be “frictionless” travel because each lorry would require separate customs checks.

Analysts say that if no agreement is reached before 2019, Kent could suffer from almost permanent Operation Stack.

Now the Department for Transport has refused to give any information about its plans, saying it would not be in the public interest to release details.

Responding to a Freedom of Information request made by the KM Group, the DfT said the government’s negotiating position could be damaged “at this sensitive stage of the department’s planning for exiting the EU.”

It added that policy was still under development and early release could confuse or mislead the public.”

“In releasing any information falling within the scope of your request, we could undermine the effective formulation or development of policies which may play a key part in our negotiation strategy.”

The refusal is unlikely to pacify the government’s critics - which include MPs who say that improvements to the road network will be necessary ahead of April 2019.

Cllr Matthew Balfour, KCC cabinet member for highways, said he was “terribly nervous” that the preparations for Brexit were moving too slowly.

He said there appeared to be no joint strategy between government departments to deal with the transport issues in Kent that Brexit could trigger.

Cllr Balfour said: "If it [Brexit] does all happen on March 31, the whole thing could be heading for chaos. Someone has to give some clear guidance and clarity about what is going to happen and when.”

Tim Waggott, the chief executive of the Port of Dover, recently said that businesses were “crying out for certainty” over the terms of any deal.

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