Proposed manual passport checks at the main cross-channel terminals, which are due to be introduced on April 8, will cause traffic chaos, according the Freight Transport Association (FTA).
The new system will see all outbound travellers leaving Britain having their passports manually checked. Currently, checks only take place when entering either the UK or France from the point of departure.
Charles Montgomery, the director general of the Border Force, has said that the technology being used to carry out the passport exit checks has yet to be finalised, which is of concern to the FTA as there is less than a month to go before the scheme is scheduled to start.
Don Armour, FTA’s manager, international affairs, said: “The FTA is not convinced that the proposed manual individual passport checking system has been thought through properly or that it is as robust as officials would have us believe. As a result we think it is going to cause chaos.”
The checks will involve operators recording passport information on all travellers and passing the details on to the Home Office, which will use the details to identify immigration offenders.
FTA is calling for proper segregation of vehicles as they approach to the cross-channel terminals in order that single occupancy vehicles are separated from those with multiple passengers – including coaches - and could be dealt with quickly and efficiently to avoid delays to time-sensitive loads during the passport checking process.
Armour added: “There is very limited space at the tunnel and ports to do this sort of thing. Without proper segregation there is likely to be long delays, and as a result there will inevitable traffic tailbacks on the approaches."
He warned that an emergency measure, 'Operation Stack' could end up being implemented on a regular basis at weekends and at peak holiday times.