They voted for Brexit, but not the giant truck park that came with it


MARSHAM, England – Since work began on a post-Brexit border checkpoint, nearby villagers have complained of construction noise, a cloud of dust, damage to their homes, obnoxious rubbish and giant trucks exploding their horns at night and stranding small country roads.

But the real problem starts like clockwork every evening when hundreds of floodlights from a giant parking lot lit up the horizon so much that on one recent night a dramatic bolt of summer lightning looked like a faint flicker.

Five years after the British voted to leave the European Union, aftershocks are still being recorded. But few parts of the country felt their impact more than this corner of England near the Channel ports and the white cliffs of Dover, where the majority voted for Brexit.

When Britain was inside the European Union, the trucks that flowed non-stop to and from France did so with little to no checks. But Brexit brought a storm of red tape, which required the government to build a checkpoint dubbed “The Faraj Garage,” a reference to the pro-Brexit campaigner. Nigel Farage.

“For people who live nearby, it’s an absolute disaster as the night sky is perfectly lit up. Frankly, it’s like Heathrow Airport,” said Jeffrey Fletcher, head of the parish council at Mersham (pronounced ‘mirzam’).

He said consultations about the 24-hour truck parking lot had been scant and suggestions on how to reduce the problems were ignored. However, the debate over an issue that has divided the country is so polarized, that Mr Fletcher believes few minds have changed about Brexit.

“I haven’t met anyone who said they would vote differently,” said Mr Fletcher, a Brexit voter, sipping coffee in the garden of his former home on his farm, part of which dates back to the 15th century.

in this time The Inland Border Facility in Savington is mainly used to test for Covid-19 for truck drivers bound for France, according to Paul Bartlett, a Conservative Party representative in Kent County Council. That should change in the fall, however, when Britain is due to start conducting checks on incoming goods including food and animal products.

Currently, the site, covering about 66 acres, is about half occupied as expected but there are indeed problems.

“Of the approximately 1,000 trucks arriving per day at the Inland Border Facility, there are two or three trucks per week that attempt to reach them via an unauthorized road: every time that happens it causes anxiety and aggravation,” said Mr. Bartlett, who He added that some truck drivers who were comforting themselves inside their taxis disposed of bottles full of urine.

“It happens,” he said, “I don’t understand it,” “why did you take it out the window when you know you can walk into the trash?”

If Britain is suffering from any widespread “Bregret” – regret over supporting Brexit – this should be the place to find it given the string of complaints.

However, opposition to the border barrier was muted because the land was intended for development and one possibility was a warehouse and distribution center.

John Lang is one of the people most directly affected, and while his physical outlook has changed drastically, his political outlook has not. Where Mr. Lang once had a view of a barley field, he now faces the site in two directions: the main area forward and the overflow area at the rear.

He said the main construction phase was “like a war zone,” not just because of the noise but because the process of leveling the ground generated a huge cloud of dust. “It was like a desert,” he said.

While that ended mercifully, Mr. Lang said he was still annoyed by trucks honking late at night or getting lost and ending up outside his home. On one occasion, Mr. Lang said he had a fight with an angry Italian truck driver. He said: “I threw it with a bag of sand.”

But those annoyances are dwarfed by A constant problem is the 40-foot-high floodlights that cast a beam of light over the area. “I think you can see it from the space station,” said Mr. Lang. He can’t use one of his bedrooms because, even in the bustle of the night, “it’s daylight.”

While Mr Lang, general manager of a construction company, feels badly treated by government officials – “they couldn’t lie in bed straight,” he said – he did not waver in his support of Brexit. He is happy with the government Draft a new trade agreement with Australia He believes more benefits will be seen a decade later.

On the road, Nick Hughes said, heavy construction vehicles caused structural cracks in the roof of his home and water blew outside. The dust, he said, “was unbelievable,” and the acoustic wall designed to mute sound from the truck parking lot caused problems because the roar from a nearby high-speed train line tends to bounce off it, amplifying the sound.

And of course there are the floodlights. ‘We could have walked around our house at night without lights,’ said Mr. Hughes. A government employee fears that the development has reduced the value of his property.

“When you talk to someone and say where you live, they would say, ‘Oh cute church. Now they say, ‘Next to the lorry park,’ he added.

However, Hughes, while anxious about how he voted to leave the European Union, said his views had not changed. “I have friends who voted both ways and we don’t talk about it,” he added. “It’s probably the most divisive thing I’ve ever known between groups of friends.”

The Transportation Department said it has commissioned a lighting survey and will work to resolve complaints.

“We are aware of residents’ concerns and have worked to reduce inconvenience by switching off the lights in one of the most common sections of the site as well as commissioning a detailed survey to better understand the problem and develop a plan to address it,” it said in a statement.

Supporters of the project point to its economic impact, and it has generated it so far 130 jobs according to an official announcement.

But by Seventh-Century Chapel, which dates back to the 13th century and is now an island of rural calm next to a sea of ​​concrete, Green Party alderman Liz Wright denounced the pollution associated with the site. “It’s so sad when you think there’s a fence, and wildflowers, and wildlife and trees, and now you see this barren expanse of trucks and buildings,” she said.

However, Ms Wright voted for Brexit because she opposed the EU’s agricultural policy and believed that immigration from the bloc was leading to lower wages, she did not change her mind either.

Those who wanted to stay in the EU, like Linda Arthur, a leader at Village Alliance, a local group that is campaigning to persuade the government to allocate some unused land to a wildlife site, can’t help but shake their heads.

“It was a beautiful rural village that was peaceful and quiet – until now,” she said, adding that some villagers got a little tired of guiding missing foreign truck drivers from the small streets.

But she accepts that the region can expect little sympathy in light of its vote to leave the European Union and acknowledges that while this idyllic corner of the countryside has turned into something ugly, sentiment about Brexit has barely moved a bit.

“It wasn’t, I think it’s very interesting, right?” “That’s all I can say as a non-EU,” she said with a wry smile.

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