1 March 2021 –
Customs checks are set to begin for the first time at Kent’s largest newly-built lorry park.
The Sevington inland border facility – off Junction 10A of the M20 at Ashford – has been open since 4 January but until now has just been used to test truck drivers for Covid-19.
HM Revenue and Customs staff, currently based at the nearby Waterbrook border post, will be moving across over the coming days.
Torrential rain was blamed for delaying construction of the facility, meaning it wasn’t fully operational in time for the end of the Brexit transition period at the start of the year.
Toby Howe, senior highway manager at Kent County Council, told ITV News Meridian: “The Sevington site has always been planned to be a one-stop shop in effect as a customs clearance site. So, HMRC in the coming weeks will be moving here as well. This site will then actually be the function it was designed to be on the 1st January.”
Approximately 45,000 lorries have passed through Sevington since it opened on 4th January, according to the Department for Transport.
The change is part of gradually increasing checks of freight between now and 1st July, when full inspections of goods will begin.
The good news is after months of planning the traffic management plan has worked. There hasn’t been the disruption that was forecast.
Toby Howe, Senior Highway Manager, Kent County Council
Currently, the need for France-bound lorry drivers to have a negative Covid-19 test if they have been in the UK more than 48 hours means Sevington is only being used for lorries heading for the Eurotunnel, with Dover traffic directed to Manston Airport.
It is hoped that will change over the next few months, as the need for tests reduces. Some 235,000 hauliers have now been tested across the country for coronavirus, since the requirement was brought in by the French government last December.
Despite some “teething issues” with sat navs sending lorries down country lanes in nearby Mersham, Ashford Council’s deputy leader, Paul Bartlett, said the border post has worked “better than anyone could have expected”.
Ashford Borough Council is recruiting around 130 staff as it prepares to provide a port health service on behalf of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).