Operation Stack Scrapped

18 May 2018, 11:03

Op Stack

A new system to make sure Kent keeps moving when there's problems crossing the Channel has been revealed.

Operation Stack is being scrapped and instead traffic will still be able to use the M20 between Maidstone and Ashford - even when it's being used to queue lorries.

Trnaposrt bosses hope it means drivers won't have to be divertedonto smaller local roads.

This will be made possible using a contraflow on the northbound carriageway, which will be available for use by early 2019, if there is ever disruption to cross-Channel traffic and lorries have to be queued.

The Department for Transport is also setting out plans to improve overnight lorry parking, so that fewer lorries will be left on local roads or parked in lay-bys overnight.

Roads Minister Jesse Norman said: “We’ve seen the severe disruption that people in Kent had to face in 2015 when there were hold ups across the Channel.

“This interim plan will help to minimise that disruption and mean people will be able to go about their everyday lives, seeing friends and family or going to work, as well as businesses being able to get to their customers.”

A public consultation on a permanent solution to Operation Stack, led by Highways England, will be launched shortly. This will include asking residents, businesses and the freight industry whether they would rather see an on-road solution or an off-road lorry park.

Highways England will start work soon on improving the northbound hard shoulder of the M20, to allow for two-way traffic to be contained within one carriageway, enabling the road to remain open.

Schemes like the Dover Traffic Access Protocol (TAP), which sees lorries held outside of the port town instead of clogging up Dover’s centre roads, and more holding spaces at the port have helped to prevent many instances of Operation Stack being called since the events of 2015.

The Department for Transport is also looking at facilities for lorry parking, and has today published its National Lorry Parking Survey, highlighting the areas around the country which need more overnight lorry parking provision.

Work to address this is already under way with plans from private developers for an extra 1,000 additional spaces across the country, which will provide benefits across the UK, particularly in the South East.

The Government has asked Highways England to review and identify sites across its land holdings which could provide an extra 1,500 spaces, which would help reduce the number of lorries parking overnight in laybys.

Roads Minister Jesse Norman and Planning Minister Dominic Raab have written to planning authorities to draw their attention to the strategic need for more lorry parking nationally and to survey results showing shortages in specific areas.

Councils may also get further powers to take action against hauliers which park inappropriately. The first six months of an 18-month trial on the A20 in Kent have seen the numbers of vehicles being clamped cut in half, and an increase in the number of lorry drivers staying in commercial parking sites.