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Eurotunnel demands another £6.8m for security costs amid Calais migrant crisis

Published 22/07/2015

Eurotunnel says it has spent more than £9 million on security measures in the first six months of the year
Eurotunnel says it has spent more than £9 million on security measures in the first six months of the year

Eurotunnel said it wants the British and French governments to pay another 9.7 million euros (£6.8 million) to cover its costs for boosting security to tackle the migrant crisis in Calais.

The Channel Tunnel company said it has already spent 13 million euros (£9.1 million) on security measures in the first six months of the year - as much as it spent throughout the whole of last year.

The British government has already agreed to pay Eurotunnel 4.7 million euros (£3.3 million), but the firm is now claiming another 9.7 million euros (£6.8 million) from the UK and France as it warned of further disruption to services and extra security costs.

Disruption to cross-Channel services has hit a peak in the past month amid a series of strikes by Calais ferry workers and migrants have taken advantage of the chaos to try to board UK-bound lorries stuck on the French side of the Channel.

The Channel Tunnel was shut temporarily yesterday after striking French ferry workers set fire to a pile of tyres and blockaded the entrance to a terminal in Calais.

This came after two strikes at the end of June which left thousands of cross-Channel passengers and freight lorries stranded.

Despite the migrant crisis and disruption, Eurotunnel posted a half-year pre-tax profit of 40 million euros (£28.1 million) against losses of 3 million euros (£2.1 million) a year earlier as the strong pound and recovering economic conditions boosted traffic.

Eurotunnel said: "Despite the good results for the first half of the year, the high concentration of migrants in the Calais area has caused, and may continue to cause, disruption to traffic and additional security costs."

It added: "I f this situation continues, or even intensifies, during the second half of the year without the French and British authorities taking the necessary measures incumbent upon them, it could affect the group's traffic and expenditure for the 2015 financial year."

The firm has had to increase security patrols and hire extra staff, as well as put up new fences, lights and cameras on the French side of the Channel Tunnel.

It is also hoping for an end to the MyFerryLink saga, which sparked the strikes in France after it was forced by UK competition authorities to offload the business.

Hundreds of ferry workers face losing their jobs after the ruling by the UK Competition and Markets Authority, as the proposed takeover by Denmark's DFDS only protects around half of the 600 employees on the Dover-to-Calais service.

Eurotunnel has chartered its two ferries to DFDS from July 2.

Striking workers are occupying the two boats, but negotiations are set to take place between DFDS and the unions.

The disruption has also had an impact on Channel Tunnel high speed rail service Eurostar, with its boss Nicolas Petrovic reported yesterday saying the travel chaos caused by the strikes and migrants will have cost it "millions of pounds".

But Eurostar still notched up a record 2.8 million passengers in its second quarter.

In half-year results, Eurotunnel said revenues rose 9% to 649 million euros (£455.2 million) as it too benefited from increased demand for cross-Channel travel from passengers and freight firms.

It said the improving economy in the UK and on the continent helped drive an 8% rise in freight truck traffic in the first half, while more UK tourists were travelling to Europe to take advantage of the strong pound.

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