Britain’s Freight Transport Association (FTA) says plans by the French authorities to build a new migrant camp in Dunkirk are “madness” as the row surrounding the burgeoning refugee problem shows no sign of diminishing.

Paris is apparently proposing to construct a new camp 30 miles north of the existing facility at the Port of Calais in a bid to cope with increasing numbers of migrants desperate to reach the UK across the English Channel, a situation which has provoked the ire of the FTA and the UK’s Road Haulage Association (RHA).

FTA members say it is impossible to prevent their trucks being attacked because of the huge numbers of migrants, but the local Mayor insists the new Dunkirk camp will provide more humane and dignified living conditions than the current arrangement.

The size of the centre has swelled from 600 to 6,000 migrants in 12 months and the number of drivers being fined for carrying stowaways has more than tripled in three years notes the FTA, which adds drivers can be personally fined up to GBP2,000 (US$2,900) for each illegal immigrant found on board.

“Planning a new camp near another port is madness – this is a critical trade route where our members will continue to be affected,” said FTA head of policy for London and the South-East, Natalie Chapman.

“There is undoubtedly a humanitarian crisis here and genuine refugees should be treated with respect and have their cases properly processed. However, the Calais camp is far too close to the road and the port, putting our members’ livelihoods and indeed their lives, at risk.

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“This is Western Europe in the 21st Century – it’s unthinkable we can’t come up with a solution to this problem instead of allowing thousands of migrants and refugees to live in squalid conditions while international transport operations are put in jeopardy.”

The FTA understands the planned new camp is to be situated 30 miles from Calais and funded by the French government.

The RHA has called for Paris to deploy military personnel to address the situation, which has seen migrants attempt to board trucks using ferries and Le Shuttle train services to cross the English Channel.