Companies could be losing £1 billion of goods a year due to the problems of illegal immigration across the English channel, according to the UK's Road Haulage Association (RHA).
The organisation, which represents UK road transport operators, said illegal stowaways were tampering with shipments to make space to hide in trucks, as well as contaminating goods with human waste. As a result companies have had to destroy the cargo.
Richard Burnett, chief executive of the RHA, said: "The owners of goods have to take the drastic action of scrapping loads as they cannot take the risk that they have been contaminated or damaged.
“With something in the order of 10,000 loads moving every day across the Channel, even if only 1 per cent are tampered with or soiled, at a loss rate of about £30,000 per trailer, this equates to about £3 million a day equalling £1 billion a year. That’s a massive and unacceptable cost to our economy and many hauliers are having to absorb large parts of that cost.”
The migration problems at Calais have been exacerbated in recent weeks by strikes by French ferry workers. The chief executive of the Port of Dover said last week the industrial action had cost the UK economy more than £1 billion.
The RHA gas set out three demands for easing the crisis. These include increasing security at the Port of Calais and extending that to an area up to five kilometres away. They also said the French military should be deployed to provide security if the police 'cannot cope' and that there should be secure parking for heavy goods vehicles waiting to board trains and ferries.
Yesterday, UK home secretary Theresa May announced the creation of a new ‘secure zone’ at the port in northern France, which will provide space for 230 lorries to park, and the government hopes will deliver extra protection for lorries and their drivers waiting to cross the channel.