Calais strike disrupts cross-Channel travel for third day

Lorries parked on both carriageways of the M20 Image copyright PA
Image caption Thousands of lorries are parked in three rows on both sides of the M20

Thousands of lorry drivers remain stranded on the M20 on the hottest day of year as French ferry workers continue a third day of strike action.

MyFerryLink workers walked out on Monday over the sale of the company's ferries to the rival firm DFDS Seaways.

The strike closed the Port of Calais and resulted in large stretches of the M20, which leads to Folkestone and Dover, being used as a lorry park.

Kent County Council said it had given 7,000 bottles of water to drivers.

From 18:00 BST, the blockade at Calais was partially lifted, with the port allowing P&O ferries through one at a time.

A French union official said this was in response to a meeting with government officials being arranged for Thursday.

Kent County Council said it has handed out 700 snack meals, with more due to be handed out at regular intervals to those "most in need" over the next 24 hours.

The M20 remains closed in both directions between Leeds Castle and Ashford as part of Operation Stack.

For the first time in Operation Stack's history the closure has also been extended on the coastbound carriageway from Ashford to Folkestone.

Wet fish

Non-freight traffic travelling to Dover has been urged to use the A2 and M2.

Truck driver Ellis Evans is stuck on the M20 near Ashford after joining the queue of lorries at 06:00 BST.

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Media captionLorry driver Ellis Evans says police told him to expect a 24-hour delay queuing to get in the Eurotunnel

"We've been told by police to expect to be here for 24 hours minimum."

Another trucker, Alan Overton from Grimsby, told BBC Radio Kent he had been stuck in the queuing traffic since just after 04:00 on Tuesday, with a lorry load of wet fish.

"At the moment we have enough fuel to keep the refrigerated motors going, but there'll come a point when that runs out and the load is in jeopardy of being scrapped," he said.

"It's already smelling... and fish water is dripping out of the trailers."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Members of the Coastguard hand out water to stranded lorry drivers on the M20

Holidaymakers and local residents have also been affected by the traffic disruption in Kent, with villages and minor roads busier than usual as motorists try to avoid the M20.

One visitor, who had travelled down from Scotland with his family, expressed frustration at the "madness" of Operation Stack.

He said he was waiting at the Port of Dover to board a ferry to Boulogne because P&O were using that port while the blockade at Calais continued.

Another tourist from Gosport, who is staying at a caravan site in Canterbury, said the knock-on effect of the strike meant it was virtually impossible to travel around Kent.

"Crossing Kent is extremely difficult. I may not come back to this area again for a sightseeing visit," he said.

Image copyright PA
Image caption A supermarket lorry brings supplies to the M20 in Ashford

On Tuesday, the strikers disrupted Channel Tunnel services by burning tyres on railway tracks in France.

Ferry sailings between Dover and Dunkirk are operating as normal.

P&O Ferries said it would be running "a limited discharge only service" to Boulogne for outbound traffic.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Freight lorries are stuck in traffic jams on both sides of the Channel
Image copyright EPA
Image caption MyFerryLink will cease operations on Thursday following the sale of its ferries to rival firm DFDS Seaways

DFDS officially takes over the MyFerryLink service on Thursday.

The French ferry workers went on strike over Eurotunnel, which owns the ships, selling the cross-Channel service after a competition authority ruling to DFDS.

Last week's disruption lasted 36 hours and saw blockades at the French port and the Channel Tunnel in Coquelles.

Several Eurostar trains were also forced to return to St Pancras, while in France migrants sought to exploit the port strike by attempting to climb onboard UK-bound lorries caught in slow-moving traffic.

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