Speed limits are to be introduced on the motorway approach to a cross-Channel port to prevent delays in the case of a no-deal Brexit at the end of October.
The contingency arrangements will see speed limits cut from 60mph to 40mph on the M275 in Portsmouth, Hampshire, from Monday October 28 as part of plans to avoid congestion at Portsmouth International Port.
Similar measures were introduced in March ahead of the previous proposed date for the UK to leave the European Union but were later reversed after an extension to membership was granted.
A Portsmouth City Council spokesman said: “The Hampshire Local Resilience Forum (LRF) has been preparing for a reasonable worst-case scenario in the event of a no-deal, with a particular focus on any potential traffic congestion at Portsmouth International Port arising from a change to customs requirements.
“With the possibility of the UK leaving the EU without a deal next week, and the latest national planning assumptions suggesting that up to 70 per cent of HGVs would not be ‘border ready’ on day one of a no-deal, the contingency arrangements are now being implemented.”
Neil Odin, chairman of the LRF strategic coordinating group and chief fire officer for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Our role within the LRF is to plan for the reasonable worst-case scenario set out in the Government’s contingency planning assumptions.
Manage the risks
“For many months now, we have been working extremely hard to identify what that is and look at the ways we can mitigate and manage the risks that are likely to arise.
“Portsmouth International Port’s close proximity to the motorway means there is only capacity for 13 lorries before reaching the main roundabout.
“Without any contingencies in place to prevent queuing, as our reasonable worst-case suggests, this will impact on the road network and beyond.
“Our focus is to keep the port operating“
“Our focus is to keep the port operating, keep the freight going in and out of the UK and enable the population of Portsmouth and Hampshire South to continue to go about their daily lives.”
Checking and holding facilities are being set up on the A31 between Winchester and Alresford and at Tipner on the outskirts of Portsmouth to process HGVs ahead of arriving at the port, with a further section of the A303 to be used as a back-up.