What next, afterM20 lorry park plan axed?

THE Government has dropped plans for a massive lorry park on theM20 – fuelling worries where officialsmight seek to site it next. Whitehall officials decided not to

defend a judicial review and to re- examine all options. Sources say that land near the for-

mer Folkestone racecourse atWest- enhanger, could become a favoured area for development. ElevenKentMPs recentlywrote to

transport secretary Chris Grayling asking for progress on the now re- jected £250mproject. They are fearful, as are the Port of

Dover andhaulage industry experts, that the M20 will grind to a virtual standstill after Brexit inMarch 2019 with Operation Stack a permanent reality. With no border clearance facility

inplace, itwas hopedin some circles that the proposed 3,600 space lorry park at Stanford West, near Folke- stone, could have been adapted. NowHighways England (HE) has

been tasked to find an interim mo- torway solution to Operation Stack and delivery of a lorry park. There is

virtually no chance of delivering the latter before Brexit as plans are un- likely to be submitted before then. HE project director John Kerner

said: “The disruption that people in Kent suffered in summer 2015 un- derlines the need for long-term im- provements to how traffic is managed when cross-channel serv- ices are interrupted. “ All options will be considered by

HE but StanfordWest still remains a possibility as does another site on the London-bound side motorway as most freight clearance work will be for food imports. Applications will be made under

the Planning Act which would re- quire a time-consuming environ- mental impact assessment, which the failed scheme failed to carry out

and ultimately cost it any chance of success. Roads Minister Jesse Norman

said: “…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.” The lorry park, announced two

years ago by former Chancellor GeorgeOsborne in the 2015 autumn statement,metwithlocal opposition. The new plans for a permanent

solution to Operation Stack will be drawn up by HE before a public consultation next year. HE says that Operation Stack can

be avoided on theM20 usingmove- able or steel barriers to safely stack lorries in the centre of themotorway whilst keeping the road open.

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MPs call for end to traffic burden

MP Helen Grant said: “I am very disappointed, to say the least, at this further delay. The people and businesses of Kentwill have to con- tinue shouldering the burden of Britain's lorry transport woes whilst Highways England slowly unzips its pencil case. “I will be writing to them to ask

why this new process is going to take until 2019 before a planning application can be submitted. Most of the options have surely al- ready been investigated, following the appalling 'Summer of Stack' in 2015, which cost the UK economy £250m.” MP HelenWhately said: “I have

foundHighways England reluctant to consider innovative solutions. “The newproposal to hold lorries

in the middle of the motorway using mobile barriers, while allow- ing traffic to continue to travel in both directions, suggests to me they are being much more ambi- tious in their thinking. Thiswill be a temporary solution, and we still need a proper alternative to Oper- ation Stack. “TheGovernment is nowgetting

straight on with trying to get a lorry park approved through the normal planning process.”

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