6 July 2016, 18:21
The Government has confirmed a major new lorry park with enough space for 3,600 lorries is to be built just off the M20 to ease the misery inflicted on drivers when cross-Channel services go into meltdown.
Construction work at the site at Stanford West will begin as soon as possible with the first spaces expected to be available next summer, according to the Department for Transport.
It will alleviate pressure on the M20 Coastbound which has been previously been used to park up lorries under Operation Stack, when there are problems at Dover, Folkestone or in Calais.
Chancellor George Osborne said: "We are taking bold action to deal with the severe inconvenience suffered by people living and working in Kent when cross-Channel services are affected.
"A long-term solution that will keep traffic moving has been talked about for decades, but now we are delivering it.''
Last summer, Stack led to sections of the M20 being turned into an HGV park for up to 5,000 lorries when services at the Channel Tunnel and Dover port were hit by the Calais migrant crisis and striking French ferry workers.
Nearby roads were also gridlocked as a result of Stack, leaving many local businesses out of pocket and hauliers stuck in large tailbacks having to dump perishable cargoes.
Stack was used for a record 32 days last year, prompting the Government to set aside £250 million for a solution in last year's Autumn Statement.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "Operation Stack is only ever used as a last resort but we recognise the impact it has on roads in Kent, and are determined to deliver an alternative solution.
"The new lorry area by the M20 will deliver better journeys for drivers and will not only support the region's economy but also businesses as far away as Scotland that rely on the M20 to access the Port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel.''
KCC's welcomed the announcement, saying Stack cost the county's economy around £1.45 million a day when Stack was implemented last year.
Transport councillor Matthew Balfour said: "For years we have argued that a solution to the problem of Operation Stack - blighting not only Kent's residents and businesses but much of the UK - needs to be considered, and this is a culmination of that work.''
CPRE Kent is a charity that seeks to preserve our countryside from excessive development. they have released a statment raising their concerns.
We are dismayed that the Government has today (July 6th) announced that the £250m lorry park the size of Disneyland will go ahead in the Kent countryside at Stanford. The Government is to start construction at the Stanford west site which will open next year.
We have argued that this is not the right solution and we need to look at the whole transport strategy, not least for the devastating effects of air pollution on the crowded and congested south east. This is a costly sticking plaster – £250m is almost the entire UK cycling budget.
It is galling that the Transport Select Committee listened to our arguments and agreed that the case had not yet been made to build this “gargantuan” concrete lorry park and other options should be considered, including a network of smaller lorry parks. Those committee findings seem to have been completely ignored.