Since the UK and French government met to discuss what is to be done with the migrant camp in Calais, the UK foreign minister confirmed plans have been unveiled to build “a big, new wall” in Calais, in the hopes of blocking refugees hopping onto lorries or other vehicles and crossing the channel.
Robert Goodwill spoke with members of parliament regarding the wall, which will be four metres high and cost £17m to develop along with the increased security and other developments planned to defend the port. “People are still getting through,” he stated. “We have done the fences. Now we are doing the wall,” he informed MPs.
The wall is set to be 1km long and reach across the port’s main dual carriageway approach, better known as the Rocade. The wall will be divided into two areas on both sides of the road, protecting HGV drivers and any other vehicles using the border from the violence that has recently taken place at the camp to the extremes of migrants cutting down trees to block roads meaning drivers have to stop while refugees attempt to sneak onto vehicles.
The material of smooth concrete is designed to be challenging to climb, with plants along the wall to reduce the impact the sight of a giant wall may have to the local residents of Calais. The plans are taking place with immediate effect, estimates predict the wall will be completed by the end of 2016.
Government plans for the wall have gained criticism from the local community, who are naming the wall “The Great Wall of Calais”.
A French aid group working in Calais, François Guennoc of Auberge des Migrants told reports: “This wall is the latest extension to kilometres of fencing and security surveillance already in place. It will just result in people going further to get around it.”
“When you put walls up anywhere in the world, people find ways to go round them. It’s a waste of money. It could make it more dangerous for people, it will push up tariffs for people smugglers and people will end up taking more risks.”
The RHA feel the idea will be a waste of taxpayer money, stating that the only thing in Calais that needs improvement are the levels of security available at the port. A spokesman told reports “It is imperative that the money to pay for a wall would be much better spent on increasing security along approach roads,”
Richard Newbold, Return Loads managing director also expressed his opinion “the wall is a good idea and should help, however more needs to be done to protect hauliers on the approach to the port.”
Former shipping minister, Robert Goodwill, expressed the wall as one area of a plan to solidify security at the border. “We are going to start building this big, new wall as part of the £17m package we are doing with the French. There is still more to do. We have also invested in space for 200 lorries at Calais so that they have somewhere safe to wait.”
Goodwill stepped in as immigration minister on July 16th, has yet to visit Calais and witness the condition the camp is in currently as residency of 6,000 refugees. He has vowed to visit the camp when possible but doesn’t want to be pinned down by pressure from MPs.
Goodwill also gave defence to the government’s track-record on supporting young refugees connected to the UK within Calais, stating that there were hopes of speeding up the process necessary.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd revealed that while the UK are funding the major aspects of the project, it will be up to the French government to decide how the investment is used. With work expected to begin in early October.
The haulage industry has been struggling on a national scale to maintain international exchange due to the immigration levels at Calais, the government are finally taking action to ensure that the journey for drivers across the border is safe and secure. Hopefully with the plans to build the wall the French government will up the urgently required security in Calais to ensure the safety of residents as well as drivers.