Published: 15:04, 28 July 2020
| Updated: 15:29, 28 July 2020
Truckers caught using unauthorised roads in Kent to get to a post-Brexit lorry park will be fined £60 if new legislation gets passed.
The government is turning a huge 27-acre site in Ashford into a holding area for up to 2,000 lorries as part of its preparations for the end of the transition period in December.
But HGV drivers will only be allowed to access the site from Junction 10a of the M20 – and will face a penalty if caught breaking the rules.
Since news of the government's project broke, concerns have been raised over the repercussions on Ashford's surrounding road network.
But MP Damian Green says the new powers will provide "essential protection for the town".
"It will give them greater power to control traffic on Kent's roads - they will apply it for the whole of Kent," he said.
"But the government needs special legislation to do that and it is planning to get it passed in September when parliament resumes.
"It will give them the powers to stop lorries using rat runs through unsuitable areas."
It is not yet clear whether police or Kent County Council will issue the fines, but Ashford Borough Council deputy leader Cllr Paul Bartlett (Con) says the enforcement is a welcome move.
He says it will stop truckers from using other routes to the lorry park such as Brookfield Road or the A251 Faversham Road.
But he admits residents will be frustrated by additional traffic lights set to be installed on the link road between the A2070 and Junction 10a roundabouts.
The signals will be put up to ensure truckers can get in and out of the site safely.
Cllr Bartlett said: "People will be annoyed by the additional traffic lights.
"But lights keep traffic moving and I think it's very important we do that.
"These lights will be solely for access to the lorry park and I would expect them to have sensors so they wouldn't be operational all of the time."
Work started on the site earlier this month and contractors are currently using a makeshift entrance off Church Road.
The temporary entrance will continue to be used until the permanent entry point is created on the link road.
But Mr Green says he is holding out hope the 27-acre site in Sevington will not have to be used.
The government says it is planning “two primary uses” for the spot – a temporary lorry holding area in case there is disruption at Dover and as a border control post to check truckers have the correct paperwork.
Mr Green said: “It all depends on the flow of traffic, but 2,000 lorries could be stored at Dover and another 2,000 with Operation Brock so hopefully they wouldn’t have to use the Ashford site.”
Operation Brock - the dreaded M20 contraflow system between Junctions 8 and 9 on the M20 - is set to return later this year.
Highways England has previously used metal barriers to create a contraflow system, but moveable concrete blocks which can be installed within hours will now be used.
Mr Green said: “I am told it will be in place for the end of December.
“It’s not great, but it’s better having two lanes on the M20 than none.”
Elsewhere in Ashford, part of the Waterbrook Park site off the A2070 has previously been earmarked for government customs checks, but it is not currently clear whether the site will be used.