The Freight Transport Association (FTA) says the new lorry area at Stanford West, announced on Wednesday, will ease pressure on Kent’s roads and keep businesses moving.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced the site, which will be completed by next summer, for 3,600 trucks. It will provide a long-term solution to the traffic chaos on the M20 and surrounding roads caused by operation stack.
Natalie Chapman, FTA’s head of policy for London and the South East, said: “FTA has been pressing for a permanent solution to the problems caused by Operation Stack so we’re delighted that the new lorry area could be ready by next summer.
“This will end the misery for thousands of residents and businesses whose lives have been repeatedly disrupted by Operation Stack on the M20, especially last summer when it was implemented 32 times. However, the design of the lorry site is crucial to ensure that trucks can be quickly moved to the port and Eurotunnel as soon as capacity is available.”
Chancellor George Osborne announced up to £250 million for a permanent lorry area in last year’s Autumn Statement. The Government is now exploring additional use of the area for overnight lorry parking to relieve the problem of illegal parking in the county.
Chapman added: “Of course, we would rather avoid Operation Stack altogether and keep the wheels of industry turning, so it is important that the lorry park doesn’t become out of sight, out of mind. We still need to tackle the causes of Operation Stack.
“It would be a bonus if the site could accommodate overnight lorry parking as this is also a serious problem in the county. However, this must not be at the cost of the smooth-running of the site for Operation Stack.”
Operation Stack was first introduced in 1988 during a strike at Folkestone Docks and has been frequently implemented since during disruptions at the port or Channel Tunnel. Stage 4 was put in place for the first time last summer, closing both the coast-bound and London-bound carriageways of the M20.