Kent transport

Queues at Dover: a “critical incident” has been declared by the Port of Kent

The port of Dover has attacked the French authorities for ‘terribly insufficient’ border control staff ruining the summer getaway for thousands of families.

A ‘critical incident’ has been declared by the Port of Kent due to six-hour queues, with tourists urged to consider staying away.

This is one of the busiest times for overseas travel from the UK, as most schools in England and Wales are going their separate ways for the summer this week.

Passengers embarking on cross-Channel crossings from Dover must clear French border controls before they can board a ferry.

The port said in a statement that it had increased the number of border control booths by 50% and shared traffic volume forecasts “in a granular way” with French authorities.

It continues: ‘Unfortunately PAF (Border Patrol) resources have been insufficient and well below what is needed to ensure a smooth first weekend of the peak summer getaway period.

Port General Manager Doug Bannister said: ‘We have a critical incident in progress.

He told BBC Radio Kent: ‘We were sorely let down this morning by the French border.

“Insufficient resources and much slower than normal transactions resulting in significant congestion around the port this morning.”

He said it will be “a very difficult day” and that the situation has been “escalated at the highest levels of our government”.

He added: “I would consider not heading to port at this stage until we know more.

“It’s really hard to go into town this morning.”

Passengers face long queues at Dover (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Delays in Dover are blocking tourist and freight traffic on the region’s congested roads.

A Twitter user wrote shortly before 7am: “I’ve been booked for the 8am ferry from Dover and it’s a total traffic jam. Moved at 50 meters per hour.

“At this rate, it will take me 34 hours before I reach the port!

“I have a screaming toddler and a three month old.”

Another said they’ve been ‘waiting for five hours and still not in port’, adding: ‘Sitting in hallways waiting to get to border control. Zero movement.

Ferry operator P&O Ferries told passengers: “Please note that there is heavy traffic at Border Control in the Port of Dover.

“If you have booked to travel today, please allow at least six hours to pass all security checks.”

Passengers are advised to take extra water and snacks.

Meanwhile, protests over fuel prices are expected to disrupt what is expected to be the busiest summer getaway on the roads for at least eight years.

Avon and Somerset Police have warned motorists that ‘slow road blocks’ are planned on parts of the M4, M5, M32 and A38 on Friday morning.

An image posted to the Fuel Price Stand Against Tax Facebook group suggests protests will be held “across the country”, including in Birmingham, Cardiff, Liverpool, London and Manchester.

The RAC said around 18.8 million leisure trips are expected in the UK between Friday and Monday.

That’s the most since the company started tracking the number of summer getaways in 2014.

Superintendent Tony Blatchford, of Avon and Somerset Police, urged drivers to consider ‘alternative travel plans’ due to protests over pump prices.

He said: “Our protest liaison team has engaged with the organizer so that we can inform the public of likely disruptions and help minimize them.

“Nevertheless, drivers can expect journey times to be longer than normal, particularly on the motorways, which often tend to be the busiest at this time of year.

“We advise motorists to consider all available alternative travel plans and ensure they are properly prepared in the event of delays.”

Protests over fuel prices on July 4 led to the arrest of 12 people on the M4.

Figures from data firm Experian show the average price of a liter of petrol on Wednesday was 187.5p, while diesel was 196.1p.

Transport analytics firm Inrix thinks the M25 – London’s orbital freeway – could see some of the worst traffic congestion due to the summer getaway, singling out sections between Bromley and Dartford Crossing; Maple Cross and the M3; and the M23 to the M40.

The A303 near Stonehenge in Wiltshire, the M4 between Cardiff and Newport in South Wales and the M5 south of Bristol are also likely to see queues.