Major works on motorways in Kent have begun as the government prepares for potentially massive delays at the port of Dover resulting from a no-deal Brexit.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling has confirmed that the M26 will become a holding area for hundreds of lorries to enable traffic to move more freely on other roads.
However, the government and Highways England have come under fire for keeping the plans under wraps. Neither the Department for Transport nor Highways England had showed the plan to local councillors or MPs until hours before the work began on Wednesday.
Conservative MP for Tonbridge & Malling Tom Tugendhat expressed told Parliament that he was unhappy about the secrecy surrounding the project.
He told the House of Commons: “It has come to a pretty pass when [an MP] finds out that works have begun on a motorway to turn that motorway into a parking lot without consultation either with the local community or with surrounding [MPs].”
Tugendhat also said that the work had started “last night” even though Grayling had assured him in April that there was no Brexit plan for the M26.
He added: “Only yesterday was it confirmed to me that Highways England had said that was exactly what was planned, despite having told me the reverse only a week earlier.”
Grayling said: “I do not expect any of the contingencies that we have in place for a no deal Brexit to be needed because I’m confident we will reach a sensible agreement [with Brussels].”
The M26 will be closed between 10PM and 5.30AM from October 15 to October 19, then from 10PM to 5AM from November 19 to December 21.
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