Thursday 31 December 2020 11:17 am

Eurotunnel operator 'confident' there will not be border chaos tomorrow

The Eurotunnel’s operator has said there will not be chaos at the border after the UK leaves the EU’s single market and customs union tonight.

Channel Tunnel operator Getlink has said it is “confident” there will not be a repeat of scenes last week when 800-long lorry queues were seen at the Kent border.

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John Keefe, Getlink’s director, told the BBC that “things will start slowly”, but warned traffic may build up in the days ahead.

“1 January will be a quiet Bank Holiday after New Year’s Eve,” he said.

“I don’t think traffic will build up until late in the first or second week of January.”

Lorries crossing the border into mainland Europe will need to fill out a range of customs paperwork from 11pm tonight when the UK splits with the EU.

There has been concern from lorry lobby the Road Haulage Association (RHA) that firms are not ready for the changes and that there will be congestion at the border.

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The government estimates that the UK needs 50,000 customs agents, private operators contracted to help firms complete border crossings, to cope with the changes next year.

However, RHA boss Richard Burnett told City A.M. last month that there was a large shortfall of agents operating in the UK.

“This is going to be a mess unless you can negotiate a transition period…if not this is going to be an incredibly bumpy ride and it’s going to have a major impact on trade,” he said.

Lorry drivers will need a special permit to enter Kent from next year, which they can only get if they have filled in the correct paperwork to transport goods to the EU.

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There will also be lorry parks set up to conduct border checks where necessary.

A Cabinet Office document released earlier this year warned that 7,000-long lorry queues could form at the border if businesses are unprepared for next year’s changes.