LONDON/CALAIS: Britain has announced plans to establish a secure truck park at the northern French port of Calais with a capacity for 230 vehicles – the equivalent of a 2.5-mile line.
Government home secretary Theresa May said £12 million would be spent on reinforcing security at several northern French ports following 8,000 failed attempts by migrants to cross the Channel in a three-week period between June and July.
Welcoming the announcement, the UK Freight Transport Association (FTA) said its members had encountered intimidation, threats of violence, damage to vehicles and spoiled cargoes while waiting at the port to cross the Channel.
FTA deputy chief executive James Hookham said the new zone "will protect drivers from the gangs of migrants threatening UK drivers. This will allow them to queue and get out of their cabs without fear of intimidation".
"At long last something is being done in order to protect drivers, but we still need the French to step up their policing of the area and address the issue of the migrants camped out in Calais," he added.
Noting that dozens of stowaways had been removed from trucks after a strike by former MyFerryLink workers had closed the port last week, Hookham declared: "Calais is a vital trade gateway, with £89 billion passing through the port every year. We cannot allow the migrants to put this in jeopardy – already millions of pounds have been lost in delays, damage to vehicles and spoiled cargoes."
British International Freight Association (BIFA) director general Robert Keen added: "Only a month ago, we called for some additional action from the authorities in France and the UK to step up their protection of the routes across the Channel and fulfill their obligations to let trade move unhindered before serious damage is done to this strategic freight route.
"If the new secure zone helps to protect hauliers, it is great news for our members that are engaged in cross channel trade."