Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Hampshire no-deal Brexit plan for M3 lorry park

a lorry at Portsmouth Port
Image caption Up to 500 lorries cross from Portsmouth Port to France every day

A 13-mile stretch of motorway could be closed and used to park lorries in the event of customs delays at ports caused by a no-deal Brexit, planners fear.

The scheme, from Hampshire's Local Resilience Forum (LRF), would allow for 10,000 lorries to be parked on the M3 south of Basingstoke.

Hampshire Constabulary, a member of the LRF, said the idea was a last resort.

Highways England said it would have "significant concerns with any suggested plan that proposed it".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Queues of lorries left residents near the Port of Dover unable to get out to buy basic supplies in 2015

The LRF has suggested 10,000 lorries could be parked between Dummer and Winchester, in the event of hold-ups caused by longer customs checks at Portsmouth International Port.

The body - comprising the emergency services and local authorities - said other traffic would be diverted on to the A30 and the A33.

It said alternative holding areas for lorries were being considered, including a preferred option of land at Dunsbury Park, Havant.

Assistant Chief Constable Dave Hardcastle, said: "Our least preferred option is stacking lorries on the strategic road network, and we continue to work with Highways England to look for the least disruptive area."

'All possible outcomes'

Portsmouth International Port currently processes up to 500 lorries a day travelling to Europe.

Kent County Council has already warned of 10,000 lorries parked or stacked on its roads if there are hold-ups at ports.

In a statement, the Department for Transport said it was "working to establish the potential impact of additional freight on the city of Portsmouth, to ensure we are prepared for all possible outcomes".

It said it would be meeting Hampshire authorities over the coming weeks.

MPs will vote on the government's proposed Brexit deal on 15 January.

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