In October 2020, the Department for Transport announced plans for a substantial investment in a new Border Facility at the White Cliffs Business Park. This proposed site, situated to the east and south of B&Q has been designated as a major employment allocation for business and industrial use in the Adopted Local Plan. As such, it is important for the Dover business and jobs strategy to complete the long-standing intention for the business park. As well as a welcome investment and jobs boost at this time.
As well as the creation of new jobs, the Border Facility will provide critical support for the thousands of jobs relating to the Port of Dover. The way in and out of the Border Facility is planned to be through White Cliffs Business Park and will use part of the Dover Fast Track scheme, which has long been identified by Dover District Council as a new key transport route between Whitfield and Dover Town.
The site is particularly well placed, being in an existing business park, just off the main strategic road network, and close to the Port. The Department have confirmed that the White Cliffs site is not being built for everyday use as a lorry park.
Inland Border Facilities (IBFs) such as this one are being put in place to carry out new checks required following the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union from July 2021. The Border Control Facility is described in the consultation as a temporary structure to be used by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) for up to five years, as an additional ‘Office of Departure/Arrival’ for goods moved under ‘transit’ customs arrangements and as a Border Control Post (BCP) for goods needing sanitary and phytosanitary checks (SPS) from 1 July 2021.
MP, councillor and resident engagement has been ongoing with the Minister and the Department for Transport since the site was identified as the preferred site some months ago, in October 2020. I have been clear throughout the process of the importance of community engagement and traffic management, and have been supporting residents in ensuring that they have direct access to the DfT senior team leading the process. This has included formal meetings with the Minister involving parish, district and county councillors.
The second stage of the public engagement process is now ongoing with the formal statutory consultation running from 13th January to 10th February. The DfT has also provided additional information about the proposed route of the Dover Fast Track to access the site, as well as details related to traffic management and HGV capacity. I have been pleased to have secured an extension to the length of the consultation period into February 2021, as a result of my representations to the Minister on behalf of residents.
A hard copy of the residents’ engagement pack has been sent out directly to allow residents to respond by post or online. The Online Feedback Form can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/KWV6STR
Following the formal consultation period, I have secured the commitment of the DfT and the Minister to ongoing discussions with the community as the site goes forward. It is vital that extensive community engagement continues during and beyond the consultation process and there are a number of issues which have been raised to which special attention must be given. These include buffer zones and landscaping near residents’ homes, light, noise and traffic. The DfT is carrying out extensive work in all of these areas, as well as on archaeological and environmental matters.
For the Dover area as a whole, it is important that clear traffic management plans are brought forward to ‘Keep Dover Clear’ to allow residents to move around the area to work, to go to schools, and to go about their day-to-day lives. I have been raising concerns directly to the Transport Minister and on the floor of the House of Commons, as well as with the Port of Dover.
I will continue to follow the development of these proposals closely, so that decisions about this important project can proceed with the best interests of our whole community in mind, including the jobs and investment that will be created and sustained by it.