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Operation Stack fears as French lorry drivers blockade Calais port

A blockade by French lorry drivers caused chaos today in Calais - with the main route in and out of the port blocked.

At around 8pm, Eurotunnel said the blockade had lifted, with passenger services continuing without disruption in both directions.

Earlier, around 60 truck drivers and 100 agricultural vehicles and workers met in Dunkirk and Boulogne ahead of the start of the industrial action.

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VIDEO: Watch protesters storm the A16 in Calais.

They then made their way slowly to the port of Calais, in an operation called "Escargot".

The convoy then met on the A16, near where Eurotunnel is based.

Protesters then blocked the route in a bid to "paralyse" the roads infrastructure and stop any vehicles from entering or leaving the town.

The disruption triggered fears of widespread disruption for cross-channel travellers. Police arrived at the port ahead of the blockade.

Eurotunnel today said they had brought in extra staff to cope with the demonstration, which was expected to cause chaos to schedules.

The ferry companies also warned of traffic delays and disruptions.

Protesters prepare to form a human chain in Calais
Protesters prepare to form a human chain in Calais
Protesters wear I love Calais T shirts
Protesters wear I love Calais T shirts
Protesters march on Calais in protest against the migrants
Protesters march on Calais in protest against the migrants
Vehicles preparing for the blockade in Calais
Vehicles preparing for the blockade in Calais

However, P&O were tweeting this morning that they were expecting various services to sail on time.

At one point, organisers circled the port with a human chain and said their action could be indefinite.

By 8.30am, our reporter in Calais, Joshua Coupe, was saying campaigners were on the road and preparing to block the A16. Traffic was stopped and delays were already building.

Mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart said on a visit to Kent last Thursday that she would join the blockade as a show of solidarity with French hauliers and businesses who have organised it.

The Port of Calais
The Port of Calais

She was pictured this morning at the head of the protest with placard wavers.

There were also fears traffic would be gridlocked at Calais and concerns if that happened, Operation Stack may have had to be implemented. A spokesman for the owners confirmed that the Manston site was on standby to take HGVs should it be required, but it was not needed.

Speaking last week the chief executive of the Road Haulage Association Richard Burnett said the effects of a blockade at the port would have a massive impact on UK-bound hauliers.

VIDEO: KentOnline reporter Joshua Coupe has the latest.

Dover MP Charlie Elphicke said: "While I have the deepest sympathy for the people of Calais, Monday's demonstration will achieve nothing other than chaos on the roads of France and Kent. What's needed is real action to tackle the causes of this crisis."

Meanwhile, Mnsr Cazeneuve told a French newspaper that the French government was determined to remove the migrant camp in stages.

He said the government was determined to take down the camp, which is estimated to now have about 9,000 people.

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