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Operation Stack lorry park canned over legal woes

operation stack cropped (1)

Plans for a lorry park to counter chaos caused by Operation Stack on the M20 have been cancelled, as Highways England reveals steel barriers could be used to stack lorries in the middle of the motorway.

The proposed lorry park in Stanford, Kent with capacity for 3,600 vehicles had been approved by the government in July last year as a permanent alternative to Operation Stack, the emergency system used to queue lorries on the motorway when there is disruption to channel crossings.

But transport secretary Chris Grayling confirmed yesterday (15 November) the plans have been cancelled. A judicial review hearing had been due next month concerning environmental impacts of the lorry park but the government has said it is no longer defending the review.

“My department and Highways England have, since being judicially reviewed, tried to find a solution so that the lorry park could be delivered as quickly as possible to mitigate the impacts of Operation Stack, whilst also meeting our environmental obligations. However, it has not proven possible to do so,” said Grayling.

Balfour Beatty had won a £130M contract to work on proposals and build the park.

A fresh lorry park proposal, including a full environmental assessment and reassessment of scope and location, is being developed by Highways England and will be consulted on early next year.

Meanwhile interim solutions such as holding lorries in the middle of the motorway rather than on the coast-bound lanes are being considered. Steel barriers and moveable barriers are being mooted as delivery options, which will be in place by March 2019.

Highways England project director John Kerner said: “Improvements at the port, and changes we have made to traffic management on the A20 near Dover, have delivered real improvements and have also helped prevent Operation Stack from being implemented. Along with our partners we are better prepared than ever, but a better plan for dealing with more widespread disruption is still needed.”

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Readers' comments (2)

  • What about the quality of life of the poor lorry drivers caught up in these delays and disruptions? In most cases the innocent parties. The lorry park could have given them access to proper toilet and eating facilities, and a place to wait safely. Now it is being proposed that they are 'imprisoned' in a central no-man's land for days with only temporary basic facilities. Surely we can design and build a proper lorry park which meets all the environmental criteria and treats these professional drivers as humans....or is the pressure from Nimby's what's actually driving this change?

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  • Philip Alexander

    How many more "schemes" which ministers have announced (with the collusion of Highways England) will be ditched for various reasons? It's a well-known ploy for government to announce schemes which they full-well know are never going to see the light of day, in order to get praised (at least from everyone but the anti-roads lobby) for trying to solve problems and generally getting on with building infrastructure. This project was always going to hit the buffers due to environmental concerns. If HE didn't know that from the outset, they don't employ the right people. And if they did know it, why were they wasting taxpayers' money?
    The big problem is what to do with the daily backlog of trucks waiting to cross the channel after Brexit happens. These occasional truck stacking exercises will become common place if not permanent once the EU (with willing French help of course) start getting awkward in clearing the trucks through customs. Traffic really will grind to a halt. But I expect that in order to carry on a fine tradition at the Dept of Transport/HE/HA/ or whatever they will be called next week, there will be no Plan B.

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