The Port of Dover plans to build on land reclaimed from the sea in an attempt to avoid delays when the European Union introduces the biometric border controls system.
By building out into the sea, the authorities said that more space would be created to process passengers passing through, thus preventing long queues and ensuring a smooth flow.
As soon as the Entry/Exit System (EES) begins, holidaymakers from the United Kingdom and other third countries reaching the EU will be required to register fingerprints as well as show a facial image alongside their passport.
Such a process is expected to create bottlenecks, and for this reason, bosses are looking to reclaim land in the western docks and expand into the sea.
The port’s chief executive, Doug Bannister, told the BBC that they have already been working with the authorities on both sides of the Channel over the past year, stressing that this made him more confident about the expansion plans.
Bannister further suggested that an app may be developed to handle the registration process before people arrive at the port.
In addition to the above-mentioned, Bannister noted that plans to reclaim land in the western docs of the port for cargo use already existed. Now, Bannister highlighted that they want to speed up the project so this area can be used to hold passengers when EES starts.
According to Bannister, decisions regarding the expansion plans needed to be made imminently and as revealed, the expansion would cost an extra €2 million, with the aim of finalising the new design by the end of this year and starting work in the spring of 2024.
Traffic numbers at the Port of Dover have increased significantly, with the port saying that the busiest day since the pandemic registered 800 cars arriving every hour at peak times. Moreover, over the summer, the port handled around 1,14 million passengers travelling to France.
The port of Dover is not alone in attempting to avoid difficulties. The chief executive of Eurotunnel’s owner, Getlink, Yann Leriche, said that they are also working to create a new area. As disclosed, Getlink is spending more than €100 million to create a new area in which people will be able to register their personal information at 75 stands.
Under the ESS, UK passengers who will be entering outside the Schengen Area for the first time will be required to have their data recorded, which then will be stored in an EU-wide database. Passing the border will become easier, as travellers will only need to scan their passports on subsequent journeys.
However, the initial registration is expected to cause long queues, with the French watchdog predicting that the EES will double queuing times at the UK-French border.