A new era of trade was finally ushered in today as a small number of trucks became the first to pass between the UK and European Union under revised border protocols.
Several dozen HGVs were ferried between Dover and Calais and Holyhead and Dublin and through the Channel Tunnel without delay after the new post-Brexit rules were introduced at 11pm yesterday.
The start of January is typically among the quietest times of the year and it is believed that large numbers of hauliers who would have made the cross-Channel journey opted to defer trips because of uncertainty caused by Brexit.
Only about 800 HGVs are expected to use the Port of Dover and Channel Tunnel today — normally up to 10,000 trucks cross the busy Dover strait each day.
A driver for the logistics company Eddie Stobart was the first to pass through the new border controls at the Eurotunnel in Folkestone shortly after 11pm on New Year’s Eve. Slavi Ivanov Shumeykov smiled and waved as his HGV was processed by officials
John Keefe, Eurotunnel’s director of public affairs, said: “It all went fine, everything’s running just as it was before 11 o’clock. It’s very, very quiet; there are very few trucks around, as we predicted.”
The first ferry between Holyhead, north Wales, and Dublin arrived in the Republic of Ireland at 5.55am today with about a dozen trucks on board. There were no delays as the freight trailers cleared customs checks for the first time under the new rules.
The Port of Dover was also quiet, with HGVs arriving at a rate of less than one per minute this morning. It was in contrast to the chaotic scenes of last week, when the French border was closed to contain a new contagious strain of Covid-19. All drivers now have to register a negative coronavirus result before crossing as well as carrying the necessary customs paperwork.
Only seven HGVs arrived in the ten minutes to 9.30am, with three being told to divert to Manston airfield, where the government is administering Covid-19 tests . . . .
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