They were in favor of Brexit. Not a giant truck fleet
“It’s very sad” that a wilderness has been turned into a trucking facility, said Liz Wright. [Andrew Testa for The New York Times]
MERSHAM, England – Since work began on a post-Brexit border checkpoint, villagers have complained about construction noise, damage to their homes and giant trucks honking their horns at night.
But the real problem begins like clockwork every night when hundreds of floodlights from the giant vehicle fleet light up the skyline.
Five years after the British voted to leave the European Union, the aftershocks are still being recorded. But few regions of the country have felt its impact more than this corner of England close to its Channel ports, where a majority voted for Brexit.
When Britain was in the EU, the trucks that flocked to and from France did so with few controls. But Brexit brought a blizzard of red tape, forcing the government to build a 24-hour checkpoint.
“For people living nearby, it’s an absolute disaster with the night sky completely lit up. Honestly, it’s like Heathrow Airport, ”said Geoffrey Fletcher, chairman of Mersham Parish Council.
Yet the debate is so polarized that Mr Fletcher believes few minds have changed on Brexit. “I haven’t met anyone who said he would vote differently,” said Mr Fletcher, a Brexit voter.
The Sevington domestic border facility is primarily used for Covid-19 testing of truck drivers traveling to France, said Paul Bartlett, a Conservative Party representative on Kent County Council. That is expected to change in the fall, when Britain starts checking incoming goods, including food and animal products.
However, opposition to the border checkpoint was silenced because the land had been allocated for development.
John Lang is one of the most directly affected, and although his physical outlook has changed dramatically, his political outlook has not changed. Where Mr. Lang once looked at a barley field, he now faces the 27 hectare facility.
And while Mr Lang, managing director of a construction company, feels badly treated by government officials, he has not wavered in his support for Brexit.
Liz Wright, a local Green Party adviser, denounced the resulting pollution. “It’s very sad when you think there were hedges, wildflowers, wildlife and trees,” she said.
However, Ms Wright voted for Brexit because she opposes the European Union’s agricultural policy and believed that migration was forcing wages down.
Those who wanted to stay in the European Union, like Linda Arthur, leader of a local group that wants land dedicated to wildlife, can only shake their heads.
“It was a beautiful, peaceful and quiet country village – until now,” she said.
But she admits the region can expect little sympathy in light of her vote to leave the EU and acknowledges sentiment over Brexit has barely budged a notch.
“It’s not, I guess it’s very interesting, isn’t it?” She said, adding with a wry smile: “That’s all I can say as a non-Brexiteer.”
[This article originally appeared in The New York Times.]