Fortress mentality: Eurotunnel flooding creates ‘moat’ to keep out refugees

© Pascal Rossignol
Eurotunnel has intentionally flooded the area near the tunnel entrance in northern France to keep refugees who try to break into the Channel Tunnel out.

This is yet another step in a series of radical decisions taken by the tunnel’s bosses in their fight with illegal migration. 

In September, 103 hectares of vegetation were destroyed to open up a clear view for CCTV and eradicate any potential hiding spots and infrared cameras were installed. 

Even though the tracks are hidden behind a high 29 km long security fence, a new measure was introduced to tighten security even more – deliberate flooding. 

"The terminal is elevated, it’s built on a marshy area,” a spokesman for Eurotunnel told La Voix du Nord newspaper. “Since the construction of the site, there existed a drainage system with trenches. This network is used now to create natural barriers that prevent access to the fence."  

READ MORE: ‘Fence is not enough - UK borders not properly protected’

The water is not deep, but it covers large stretches of land along the fence line creating additional difficulties for refugees, most of them living in the Jungle camp in Calais, who want to cross the channel to seek asylum in the UK. 

In summer 2015 the number of people storming the area at once reached 1,500 people at its peak. The Tunnel’s security guards used tear gas to fend the crowds off. 

Eurotunnel spokesman Romain Dufour told The Local that the drastic security measures had paid off.

"Of course, the increased security is working, we haven't had any traffic disturbances for three months,” he said.

There is more work ahead as Eurotunnel plans another addition to electric fencing, scanners and infrared cameras - they plan to go back to the roots of fortress security and plant spiky bushes as a means of natural fencing.