The exercise is part of a completely fresh look at how traffic can be managed better when there is disruption to services across the English Channel, and builds on significant improvements already made by Highways England and its partners in Kent since the unprecedented deployment of Operation Stack in summer 2015.
The exercise starting today is inviting feedback on the development of a lorry holding area. The solution could be an on-or off holding area for lorries, at one site or a number of sites. No specific sites have been identified at this stage. Views are also welcomed on the possible provision of 24-hour lorry parking facilities for everyday use by lorry drivers, which could help with lorry parking problems in Kent.
Highways England project director John Kerner said:
The disruption that people in Kent experienced in the summer of 2015 underlined the need for improvements to how traffic is managed when services across the English Channel are interrupted. Around 11,500 lorries use the Kent corridor to access cross-Channel travel services every day. In 2016, the port of Dover and Eurotunnel handled a record number of lorries and this is expected to double over the next decade.
We now have an opportunity to take a completely fresh look at what a permanent solution to Operation Stack could be, and understanding people’s views will be vital in making sure we can identify the most appropriate outcome. I encourage anyone with an interest to get involved.
When disruption occurs, as a result of severe weather, industrial action or operational problems, lorries often queue on the roads leading to the port, leading to congestion of the strategic and local road network.
When extraordinary levels of disruption occur, Operation Stack is activated to queue lorries on the M20 until they can catch their ferry or train. In summer 2015, Operation Stack was in place for over 30 days. As a result, the Government asked Highways England to investigate options for management and handling of lorries caught up heading to Dover.
Without action, existing and likely future issues will continue to put pressure on the roads and motorways in Kent. With traffic levels due to increase, this would likely mean Operation Stack being activated more frequently.
The exercise starts today and runs until 22 July 2018.
Drop in sessions are being held across Kent, and information will be available at 30 locations countywide. For more information on the dates and venues, and to sign up to receive updates about the scheme, visit the project page on the Highways England website.
Members of the public should contact the Highways England customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000.
Journalists should contact the Highways England press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.