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Government turns to emergency powers to give green light to Manston as temporary relief Op Stack lorry park

By Paul Francis

The government has used emergency planning powers to give the green light to a temporary lorry park at the former Manston airport.

An order laid before Parliament, which came in today (2), grants temporary planning permission for nine months, allowing the 800-acre site in Thanet to “hold” potentially hundreds of HGVs when Operation Stack is in place until next June.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has acknowledged it has been unable to hold a public consultation on the emergency lorry park plan but has carried out “targeted consultation with stakeholders.”

Workers getting Manston ready
Workers getting Manston ready

These include the Environment Agency, Kent County Council and the Highways Agency.
There has been criticism of the decision to use Manston as a relief lorry park, with North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale describing it as insane.

The emergency order replaces one that was implemented when work got underway last month, preparing the airfield to accommodate lorries. That was for just 28 days and has now run out.

A memorandum on the new order states:

“The site provides significant capacity, allows for control and management of the traffic flow, opportunities for separation of Port and tunnel traffic and has the potential to ease congestion on the M20 motorway.”

Lorries queing coast bound between junction 9 and junction 10 in Ashford during Operation Stack
Lorries queing coast bound between junction 9 and junction 10 in Ashford during Operation Stack

Work preparing the site began last month. The airfield has been equipped with floodlighting and lines have been painted for spaces, while caterers, round-the-clock security staff and parking marshalls have been contracted.

Toilets and shower blocks have also been put on the site.

Ironically, the long period of disruption caused by a record-breaking 24 days of Operation Stack in the summer came to an end at the end of July and Manston has yet to be used.

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