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Logistics UK said it was “extremely concerned” at moves by the government to fine HGV drivers who enter Kent without a negative Covid-19 test.

Ministers aim to stave off traffic chaos at the county’s ports by imposing £150 penalties on international lorry drivers entering Kent without first obtaining a negative test.

But in response to the laying of the government’s statutory instrument in Parliament today (22 January) on fines for HGV drivers, Elizabeth de Jong, Logistics UK policy director, said it would place unfair costs on individuals propping up the economy: “While we agree that tests should take place outside of Kent to reduce traffic congestion, we need absolute assurance from government that this will only be implemented when inland testing sites around the country have proven capacity to meet the demand for tests,” she said.

“Capacity must be increased before any change in legislation can be implemented.”

“To help prevent testing delays and costs, Logistics UK is calling on government to prioritise the roll out of Covid-19 vaccines to HGV drivers and other operational logistics workers to minimise the administrative burden on operators and reduce resulting delays to freight movements.

“It is also imperative that international hauliers based in Kent still have access to testing within the county, to prevent unnecessary detours away from the border, and that there is also capacity to test those arriving in Kent without a valid negative test.”

Responding to a question in the House of Commons about what steps have been taken to ensure the suitability of the location of Covid-19 testing sites for lorry drivers, transport minister Rachel Maclean said: “Covid-19 testing sites have been located at thirty-five information and advice sites - motorway service areas and truck stops - across the country linked to key haulier stopping spots on their journey to ports.

“Their location has been determined by analysing such criteria as proximity to port, proportion of haulage traffic using the route, and capacity of the parking available. Covid-19 security has also informed the locations and site infrastructure.

“The Department for Transport continues to urge hauliers not to leave testing to the last opportunity and to get tested well before arriving at their port of departure.”