Kent

Operation Stack lorry park plans discussed by MPs

Operation Stack Image copyright PA
Image caption Operation Stack was imposed 32 times last summer, prompted by disruption caused by French ferry staff strikes and by migrants trying to reach the UK

Plans to build a huge lorry park to end the gridlock caused by Operation Stack have been discussed at Westminster.

The Transport Select Committee considered two potential locations for a 4,000-space site, both north of the M20 at junction 11.

The motorway was shut 32 times last summer so lorries could queue during cross-channel disruption.

The Port of Dover estimates the UK economy loses up to £250m per day when Stack is in force.

Highways England said a permanent site could "help significantly reduce the likelihood of having to close the M20 in the future" and improve facilities for lorries across the county in general.

'Migrant crisis problems'

It suggested two sites to the north of the M20, close to the village of Stanford.

Image copyright Highways England
Image caption The proposed lorry parks are to the north of the M20 near Stanford and Westenhanger

Giving evidence to the Transport Select Committee on Monday, Eurotunnel said problems last summer were unique due to the migrant crisis.

Stanford Parish Council submitted its opposition to MPs.

Its chair, Matthew Webb, said: "It is not worth spending £250m on a car park which might be used twice a year."

He said new motorway technology and smarter fleet management could help lorries avoid congestion instead.

'Divert traffic'

Dr Hilary Newport, from the Kent branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said Kent ports would always create a bottleneck and suggested more traffic should be diverted to Tilbury.

Councillor Matthew Balfour, cabinet member for Environment and Transport at Kent County Council, said the only solution was to have a storage area off the M20 as Kent "grinds to a halt" when lorries are parked on the motorway.

Natalie Chapman of the Freight Transport Association said there had to be an answer, adding: "We can't be using a part of our strategic road network as a giant lorry park."

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