The Department for Transport has today informed the High Court that it will withdraw plans for a lorry park at Stanford West in Kent.
The Government document says that, “It will now develop new plans for a permanent solution, including a lorry park, to cope with disruption on Kent roads caused by cross-channel disruption as well as providing daily parking for lorries. A consultation is set to take place next year, ahead of a planning application in 2019.”
But it also says that, “An arrangement with Manston Airfield and the Department for Transport is also being extended to allow it to continue to be used during severe cross-Channel disruption, helping to further reduce the impact on Kent.”
The link to the full report is here –
This announcement follows a comment made by Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, when he appeared on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on 15th October and which we reported on previously. He then said,
“We have the whole of Manston Airfield available to use if Operation Stack is needed when the Channel ports don’t function.We’re now doing detailed work to look at how we take those arrangements forward in 2019 if we need them.”
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said:
“The government is now doing what we would have preferred to have seen done from the outset.
“Not just looking for an acceptable alternative to Operation Stack, but moving to tackle both the woeful shortage of overnight lorry parking in the South East and the potential challenges hauliers face if a no-deal Brexit occurs and more customs facilities are needed.”
Mike Cherry, national chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses, said the announcement was “deeply disappointing” it has gone “right back to square one”.
“Operation Stack brings gridlock to vast swathes of Kent, leaving local businesses cut off from customers and supplies.
“Even an interim solution may not be in place for another 16 months. While proper planning procedures must be followed, action needs to be taken urgently to prevent the risk of further chaos.
“Given Dover is Europe’s busiest international ferry port and handles £100 billion of trade annually, we urge the Government to implement an interim plan as soon as possible – ensuring disruption is kept to a minimum.”
Liberal Democrat group leader at Kent County Council, Cllr Rob Bird said:
“Within a few hours the Government’s Brexit preparations have gone from ‘catastrophic’ to almost ‘non-existent’. The plan for a massive lorry park at Stanford was never a good solution. Using Manston Airport is no better, nor is parking up lorries on the M20. Having no dedicated lorry park in place by March 2019 could cause the biggest traffic jam Kent has ever experienced. Kent needs a credible alternative to Operation Stack now.”