Britain is to begin work on 1.9- million-pound “new big wall” in French port of Calais, to block refugees and migrants jumping on to lorries to cross the English Channel via ferries and enter the UK illegally.
The four-metre-high wall, being dubbed the “Great Wall of Calais”, is part of a 17-million-pound package of joint Anglo-French security measures to tighten precautions at the port connecting France and England, UK immigration minister Robert Goodwill told the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee yesterday, soon after scandal-hit Indian-origin MP Keith Vaz had resigned as its chair.
“People are still getting through. We have done the fences. Now we are doing the wall,” Goodwill told MPs.
“The security that we are putting in at the port is being stepped up with better equipment. We are going to start building this big new wall very soon as part of the 17-million-pound package we are doing with the French,” he said.
Building on the 1-km-long wall along the Calais ferry port’s main dual-carriageway approach road, known as the Rocade, is due to start this month.
The wall, estimated to cost the UK taxpayer 1.9-million- pound, will be built in two sections on either side of the road to protect lorries and other vehicles from migrants who have used rocks, shopping trolleys and even tree trunks to try to stop vehicles before climbing aboard.
The aim is to add a further layer of protection against attempts to delay or attack vehicles approaching the port of Dover on the English side.
It is aimed at migrants in the camp called the “Jungle” in Calais, which is home to 9,000 migrants and refugees living in squalid tents and makeshift shelters.
Many of them have attempted to reach the UK by boarding lorries as they approach ports or the Eurotunnel which connects France and England.
Recently they began throwing objects at vehicles travelling to the port to slow traffic, so they can get on to lorries bound for the UK.
Earlier this week, lorry drivers, shopkeepers, farmers and police officers took part in a blockade of the main motorway in Calais demanding the Jungle be demolished.
Richard Burnett, chief executive of the UK’s Road Haulage Association, called the wall plan a “poor use of taxpayers’ money”.
He said funding for a wall “would be much better spent on increasing security along the approach roads”.
Work on the wall is expected to begin later this month.
It will be made of smooth concrete in an attempt to make it more difficult to scale, with plants and flowers on one side to reduce its visual impact on the local area.
It is due to be completed by the end of the year.