New European Union border identity checks could lead to 17-mile tailbacks at Dover, MPs were told.
lizabeth de Jong, director of policy at trade body Logistics UK, said it would be “very bad news” if lorry drivers are required to leave their vehicles to undergo biometric checks.
The new system for monitoring non-EU travellers entering the bloc’s Schengen Area is scheduled to be implemented in April next year.
It is proposed that UK citizens embarking on cross-Channel trips from Dover will be checked by French police at the Kent port.
Ms Jong told the Commons’ Transport Select Committee she hopes that “pragmatic negotiations” take place which result in lorry drivers being able to stay in their cabs.
Forcing drivers to leave their vehicles “takes up a lot of time and also leads to security issues for the loads and for migrants”, she said.
“An increase in two minutes processing for each lorry would lead to a 17-mile delay at the Dover border.”
Asked about the consequences of requiring drivers to leave their vehicles, she said: “If it is going to be implemented, then we will be needing to have the same amount of contingencies as we were having for our worst-case planning scenarios for Brexit and the Operation Stack.
“It is very bad news indeed.”
Operation Stack involves freight traffic travelling to the Continent being held on parts of the M20 in an attempt to prevent gridlock on Kent’s local road network during disruption at Dover.
Post-Brexit planning included Operation Brock, which involved the installation of a moveable barrier on the motorway to enable lorries to be held and a contraflow system to be implemented.
The barrier was removed in April.
Another measure saw Manston Airport being used as a temporary lorry park.