The government is now planning to build two border checkpoints in the Dover area, according to the local MP.
Natalie Elphicke says it will bring “millions of pounds of investment” which she describes as “a real Brexit boost for our community”.
A facility to check lorries at the White Cliffs Business Park, near the village of Guston, was first mooted in November last year.
But Ms Elphicke says ministers now want “two key border operations” in the town – one to be used by customs officials and the other by health inspectors. It is not known where the second facility will be located.
When asked by ITV News Meridian to confirm details of the plans, an HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) spokesperson said that “sites needed for other inland border infrastructure are being considered, but cannot be commented on further for commercial reasons”.
Watch: Natalie Elphicke MP, Dover (Con), describes the updated plans
The planned lorry park near Guston has been controversial, with some local residents campaigning against the facility, while others have called for it to be reduced in size.
According to the leader of Dover District Council, “the government listened to these concerns and has made the facility smaller and less intrusive”. Cllr Trevor Bartlett (Con) added: “This is fantastic news and very welcome new investment for our area.”
But Cllr Kevin Mills, Labour opposition leader on Dover District Council, said the “devil will be in the detail”. He told ITV News Meridian: “Although we welcome a smaller White Cliffs site, what we still don’t have is the detailed plans for either site, and this is all fairly time critical as full examinations will start on the 1st January. The concern is this latest announcement raises more questions than it answers.”
Watch: the site of the planned ‘White Cliffs Inland Border Facility’ (library pictures)
Sarah Gleave, campaigns coordinator at Dover and Deal Green Party, said she is yet to see any clear figures for how many trucks will be permitted to use the facilities. “Many local residents have all said relocate the Dover inland border facility to a safer site, further inland where the A2 is already dualled, because it is logically impossible to have traffic flowing in and out of the Dover IBF at the same time as 18 months' worth of upgrading of the A2 is happening,” Ms Gleave added.
Final designs for the Guston site have yet to be published by the government ahead of planning permission being sought, which is expected to be done using a Special Development Order.
It was initially thought it could open as early as this summer, but residents have not seen any significant construction work at the site for several months and it is not expected to be completed until 2022.
Leader of the County Council, Cllr Roger Gough (Con), has described the apparent decision to construct two border facilities in Dover as “excellent news for Kent”.
“At MP, County Council and District Councils, we have worked hand in glove to deliver a smart and resilient solution, and millions of pounds of investment in our area,” Cllr Gough added.
Recruitment for positions at the port health authority site, which will be run by Dover District Council, has already started – with 30 posts already filled and a further 40 currently being advertised.
The inland border facility (IBF) at Sevington near Ashford is currently being used by lorries crossing the Channel. Officials have now stopped using the former Manston Airport to hold HGVs.
In March, the government delayed the introduction of full post-Brexit import checks on goods arriving from the EU until January 2022.