Stone Hill Park have issued a statement in response to the disclosure earlier this month by The Isle of Thanet News, showing they have been paid more than £5.7 million to earmark Manston airport for use as part of Operation Stack.
Ray Mallon, spokesman for Stone Hill Park, said: “We were approached by the Department for Transport with a view to entering into a commercial agreement for our site to be used as an emergency lorry park.
“A significant amount was spent preparing the site for HGVs to park there, including works to the runway parking area, toilet facilities and security. We also have agreements with a number of companies to ensure we’re able to have the site ready to receive lorries within three hours of being notified.
“We have also ploughed money back into our development plans for the site. These plans – if granted planning consent – will deliver millions of pounds of private sector investment for Thanet that will dwarf anything we have received to date, including: three new schools; the first part of a new strategic road link to Westwood Cross; a hi-tech business park plus regionally significant sports, leisure and heritage attractions that will create jobs and boost the area’s economy.”
Freight routes that would include Manston Airport as part of Operation Stack
We thought it worthwhile posting once again the plans by Highways England that would be put in place if Operation Stack were to require Manston Airport, especially as opinions on TV reports today may have led to some confusion.
If Operation Stack has been implemented and junction 8 (Maidstone services) to junction 11 (Westenhanger) reach capacity, Highways England will use Manston airfield to park Port of Dover freight.
Freight bound for Dover would divert via the M2 and A299 to Manston. When released from Manston, they would proceed via the A256 to Dover, including the non-dual carriageway sections of the road.
Tourist traffic would continue by the M2/A2 or M20/A20 routes.
Concerns have previously been raised over the likely traffic congestion on the route once lorries were released from Manston, travelling to Dover Docks via the A256. These concerns were raised again today by Charlie Elphicke MP for Dover.
The route freight would use to get to Manston, being the M2 and A299 Thanet Way, is dual carriageway and one of the benefits we have always promoted for Manston and its use as an Airport.
Clearly the use of the M20 would be reduced, restricting that for freight and tourist traffic heading towards the Channel Tunnel at Folkestone. This would reduce the pressure on the M20 and likely avoid at least some of previous chaos. The Freight traffic from Manston would only use a short stretch of the A2 at Dover.
Clearly we would hope that a more permanent solution is sought for the problem and the funds currently being spent could soon be diverted into that option. However, given the abandonment of the dedicated lorry park in November 2017 and subsequently the contract to use Manston extended until the end of 2019, it may not be anytime soon.