The government has secretly purchased nine hectares (22 acres) of land 20 miles from Dover, as part of their plan to construct a vast new Brexit customs clearance centre for the 10,000 lorries that come through the Kent port from Calais every day.
They intend to begin work fencing off the vast 1.2m square foot “Mojo” site on the outskirts of Ashford on Monday and have given the local council just hours of notice that the land was now in public ownership.
The new centre will be the first customs post erected in the UK dealing with goods coming from the EU for 27 years.
The council leader was informed on Friday afternoon and has been forced to rush out hand delivered letters to local residents to warn them of the disruption, Paul Bartlett, a Conservative councillor said.
the government will do as they wish – planning rules can go out the window
Ashford residents will receive a letter warning them “the Department of Transport has purchased the site known as ‘MOJO’ (Church Road, Sevington Ashford). Preliminary works are scheduled to take place on the western parcel from Monday 13 July 2020, this will include: securing the site with fencing, grass and weed vegetation cutting, extensive survey work, the constructing of a temporary site office, and the constructing of a temporary access to the site from the A2070 link road.”
The government has been forced to introduce customs controls because of the decision to leave the EU’s single market and the customs union on 1 January.
It is is anticipated to form part of the Department’s strategy to minimise potential disruption at Kent Ports for the end of the Transition Period. This is likely to involve temporary capacity for the holding of delayed HGVs and facilities for border-related controls to be carried out by Government Agencies (e.g. HM Revenue and Customs).
From 1st January 2021, the UK will revert to a system whereby importers will have to make customs declarations. There are fears locally in Kent that it could lead to massive congestion and tailbacks on the motorways from both the port of Dover and the Eurotunnel freightway in nearby Folkestone.
The new operation is going to take some considerable planning, considering it will be located 20 miles from the Port of Dover. The emergency purchase of the site is expected to be unveiled on Sunday by Michael Gove.