The government today (15 November 2017) reaffirmed its commitment to a permanent alternative to Operation Stack to keep Kent moving, as it announced it was no longer defending a judicial review over a planned lorry park near the M20.
The Department for Transport has informed the High Court it will withdraw plans for a lorry park at Stanford West, Kent. A judicial review hearing was due at the beginning of December. Since the judicial review, work has continued to deliver the lorry park as quickly as possible while also meeting environmental obligations. However, this has not been possible.
Highways England 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.
An interim innovative plan is also being developed by Highways England to allow motorists to carry on using the M20 when Operation Stack is implemented, minimising the impact on Kent’s economy as well as residents.
This could see a dual carriageway created on the M20 by using moveable or steel barriers to safely store lorries in the centre of the motorway. This solution should be in place by March 2019 and more details will be confirmed early next year.
Roads Minister Jesse Norman said:
We know how seriously the lives of Kent residents and the prospects of businesses were affected when Operation Stack was implemented in 2015 and we remain fully committed to a permanent solution.
However, we need to go through the proper procedures to ensure our plans, which include a lorry park, best fit the needs of Kent and the freight industry.
In the meantime we are developing an interim measure to keep the M20 open to traffic in both directions if Operation Stack is implemented – ensuring disruption is kept to a minimum.
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 Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has started targeting lorry drivers who illegally sleep in their cabs, including those in Kent. Drivers sleeping in their vehicles in laybys, business parks and residential areas will be fined £300 for breaching drivers’ hours. Highways England is also developing plans to provide daily parking for lorries to reduce the problem of fly-parking.