Blow by blow on the much-hyped ‘Calais blockade‘ as – in a demonstration against the notorious Jungle migrant camp – protesters target Eurotunnel, nearly 20km away.
20:00BST: as TomTom shows signs of movement on the A16, Eurotunnel says the demonstration has now ended. However, drivers should still expect some delays for the time being.
19:30BST: BMTV says the leader of the strike – FNTR’s David Sagnard – has called for the blockade to be lifted. But it is still in place at the moment, and apparently his call was not universally well received by the strikers themselves..
18:20BST: there is still no news on the strikers’ meeting but journalist Jean-Paul Mulot tells us that the farmers will remove their vehicles after receiving a promise of extra cash.
The truckers are still negotiating, apparently over extra CRS riot police according to Nord Littoral.
18:00BST: it was hoped the block at A16 Eurotunnel would have been lifted by now. Apparently the strike leaders are meeting with Pas de Calais prefect Fabienne Buccio, and have been for some hours.
16:30BST: as the blockade seems to be easing, attention to turns to why the protesters have targeted Eurotunnel. The Channel Tunnel junctions continue to be blocked even as other sections of the A16 reopen.
The demonstration was called over the Jungle migrant camp, nearly 20km from the Channel Tunnel terminal in France. The port road past the camp is free-flowing according to Calais police.
Eurotunnel tells us, ‘It is just to raise profile but, in reality, it has had little effect. Passenger traffic has been fluid all day and freight has been kept clear of the blockades by police. Our terminal and services are unaffected by the protests.’
We have contacted the strike organisers but are yet to hear back.
15:30BST: Calais police say the A16 has reopened between Calais and Dunkirk, and that the N216/A216 ‘Rocade’ ring road into the port from A16 is now free flowing.
However, the Eurotunnel junction continues to be blocked in both directions – but hopes are high it will be lifted by 18:00 local.
13:20BST: local paper La Voix du Nord reports that – as originally expected – the demo will go on until 18:00 local time (17:00BST).
12:00BST: the convoys have now met at Eurotunnel’s J42b which sees the A16 closed in both directions.
Eurotunnel says, ‘Access to the terminal is very difficult and will probably remain so for the next few hours.’ See this updated map on routes in and out.
Chris Horsey arrived in France on Eurotunnel earlier and said passengers were asked to follow diversions out of the terminal as access to the A16 was blocked.
Diversions on the A16 are now in place for cars at J36 Marquise – south of Eurotunnel – and at J50 Gravelines – between Calais and Dunkirk – for cars and trucks according to the Nord prefecture.
There is also truck storage on the A25 towards Dunkirk at Wormhout and on the A16 at Ghyvelde. This is to regulate the amount of traffic heading into the ports.
11:00BST: the northbound A26 towards Calais is now closed with traffic diverted onto D943 at J2 Zouafques/Ardres reports P&O.
10:45BST: the ‘operation snail’ part of the protest was a go-slow in the purest sense of the word. Vehicles have taken an age to reach the port, first from the direction of Dunkirk and still in the process from Boulogne.
Check RT for live coverage.
09:45BST: as BBC reporter Eleanor Roper still waits for the trucks in Calais it seems (not confirmed) from TomTom navigation that the A16 has been closed westbound just to the east of the port, and just south of Eurotunnel, i.e. away from protesters on the port road.
08:45BST: there may (or may not) be fewer vehicles than expected on the motorway blockade – so far – but plenty of Calaisiens have turned out for the ‘human chain’. The N216/A216 ‘Rocade’ port access road from the A16 has now been blocked says @JoshuaCoupe_ with just one lane open in the other direction says La Voix du Nord (which also says up to 450 locals have turned out for the demo).
Meanwhile, the A16 westbound into Calais has been closed by protesters. The convoy from Boulogne is still on the move.
07:30BST: P&O says diversions are in place into and out of Calais port and that drivers should avoid the A16. Eurotunnel says diversions are in place and that access to the temrinal is still clear and under the authorities’ control.
07:15BST: as both convoys get underway, @SimonJonesNews tells us there were around 20 trucks in Dunkirk too. Added to the Boulogne contingent, see below, this means only around half the expected vehicles have turned up – though numbers will be bolstered by tractors and agricultural vehicles while, reports @JoshuaCoupe_, ‘dozens’ of business owners are waiting along the A16 ready to join the convoy.
07:00BST: a representative from French truck union FNTR tells the BBC Radio 4 Today programme the A16 blockade could continue indefinitely.. depending when the Jungle migrant camp is cleared.
06:30BST: Juan Maza Calleja on the ground in Boulogne says just 20 trucks have assembled so far.
What is expected to happen: trucks assemble from 06:30CEST near Dunkirk and at Outreau in Boulogne then drive from 07:30CEST towards Calais. They come to a halt at Calais to block the A16 in both directions around the N216/A216 junction to the port until 18:00CEST.
At the weekend the BBC reported 80 trucks and 100 tractors would take part – a substantial number but not enough to block the A16 for miles in both directions.
What happens after that is anyone’s guess – locals have threatened a human chain up to the Jungle migrant camp which could stay in place until the camp is removed by authorities.
Resources: Eurotunnel has listed three diversions for customers heading to the terminal from A16 Boulogne, A26 Saint Omer and A16 Dunkirk – the latter two head through Calais town which is also the best option (if police keep roads clear) to reach Calais port. Also see DFDS map of the route to the port via Calais town.