With new EU facial and fingerprint checks at the borders expected to be introduced later this year, a report outlining concerns for the impact on Kent has been put to a council committee.

The report to Kent County Council’s (KCC’S) Environment and Transport Cabinet Committee calls on the Government to ramp up its planning, preparations, support, and investment ahead of the introduction of EU Entry Exit System (EES) checks in October, given that this presents a very real risk of causing major and prolonged congestion on Kent’s roads, and the associated impact on Kent residents, businesses and public services.

Leader of KCC Roger Gough looks seriously at camera
Roger Gough, Leader of Kent County Council

The Leader of Kent County Council (KCC) Roger Gough told an EU Scrutiny Committee in January he is enormously concerned that the implementation of EES will result in serious delays for those travelling through the county and have a knock-on effect on Kent communities along the route to, and in, Dover.

In the summer of 2022 delays on the approaches to both Port of Dover and Eurotunnel caused long delays, with tourists stuck in queues for over 15 hours – data analysis and modelling carried out by partners in the Kent Resilience Forum (KRF) currently indicates that  the results of introducing of EES checks on tourist traffic crossing the short straits are expected to be much worse and to occur on a regular basis.

The new EES checks will require travellers from countries outside the EU to register biometrics such as facial and fingerprint scans at their first point of entry.

Roger Gough said: 

“The Channel route is the most important entry to Europe for the whole of the UK, which means Kent is the key strategic passage into the continent. The county is the gateway to Europe, providing the shortest crossings which are the preferred route for supply chains across the country. It is therefore vital that KCC is supported with managing the expected impact of EES on the county.

“ Working closely with central Government and all partners, KCC must first and foremost protect Kent residents, business, and public services, and we should be supported in this by strengthening our local transport networks and by reinforcing our wider community infrastructure and services, to keep Kent moving and communities safe.”

KCC Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, Neil Baker, added: 

“We are calling on Government to act now to ensure that our borders are free from delay and disruption, with improved infrastructure, information, and intelligence, to ensure that everyone travelling through Kent is kept safe, fully informed and that they are able to reach their destinations easily and without delay.”

KCC, working with the Department for Transport and partners of the KRF, is ramping up planning for the introduction of EES checks throughout 2024. They will be working to

  • Understand border demand,
  • Maximise traffic fluidity,
  • Keep visitors safe,
  • Protect communities and support businesses, and
  • Educate and inform.

By Ed

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