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Operation Stack: KCC transport bosses warn alternative needed before Brexit

By Paul Francis

County transport chiefs have warned the government it must act quickly to find an alternative to Operation Stack or risk delays and disruption when Brexit takes effect next year.

In an uncompromising message, Kent County Council says an alternative solution to Operation Stack is “desperately needed” as the M20 must “remain open to local residents and businesses at all times.”

The warning comes in an official response by KCC to a government consultation on its plans for the country’s road network, called “Shaping the Future of England’s Strategic Roads.”

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Operation Stack between Junction 9 and 10 of the M20. Picture Gary Browne

Operation Stack between Junction 9 and 10 of the M20. Picture: Gary Browne

The council takes the opportunity to highlight the consequences of failing to have any plans to mitigate delays and congestion when the UK leaves the EU next year, saying: “Kent’s local road network must not take the burden of delays in cross-Channel freight traffic.

"It is for this reason that KCC is very disappointed the government is no longer constructing a permanent lorry holding area at Stanford West.

"Whilst it is appreciated that work will continue on new proposals for accommodating freight in the event of cross-Channel delays, a planning application will not be considered until 2019.”

The response adds: “Whilst this would be of serious concern in its own right, the timing of this process as it is so close to Brexit makes the delays in identifying a solution all the more alarming.”

KCC cites “rising concerns about the likelihood of more and more frequent delays in cross-Channel traffic and freight movements post-Brexit” and the “urgent need” for the government to move forward with an alternative to Operation Stack.

The report also warns that Kent’s position as the gateway to Europe means that “Brexit will require infrastructure investment to maintain freight fluidity.”

Operation Stack on the M20, July 2015

Operation Stack on the M20, July 2015

The government announced last year that it was abandoning its plans for a huge lorry park off the M20 at Stanford near Folkestone.

That came just weeks ahead of a Judicial Review of the government’s scheme.

KCC calls for the government to acknowledge the need for investment in improvements to key roads and junctions to cope with rising traffic levels.

Among them are recommendations to up-grade the M2 to a “smart” motorway - meaning drivers could use the hard shoulder during busy periods - and up-grading the remaining section of the A2 from Canterbury to Dover.

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