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Renewed calls for lorry park off M20 in Kent

The government is being urged to renew efforts to find a site for a permanent lorry park after the announcement the contraflow on the M20 is being lifted.

It is now five years since former Chancellor George Osborne revealed he was earmarking £250 million for a permanent lorry park in Kent as an alternative to Operation Stack.

Former Chancellor George Osborne earlier earmarked £250 million for a lorry park in Kent
Former Chancellor George Osborne earlier earmarked £250 million for a lorry park in Kent

And it is two years since the Department for Transport scrapped plans for a huge lorry park off the M20 near Folkestone.

Proposals for a lorry park close to Brenley Corner have also been shelved.

KCC leader Cllr Roger Gough said the announcement Highways England was to remove the Operation Brock barrier along the M20 was "very welcome news indeed for drivers and the people of Kent".

But he warned a solution would still need to be found for when the M20 was closed or disrupted for other reasons - such as bad weather across the Channel.

Cllr Gough said: "Leaving the barrier and speed restrictions in place now the government is standing down no-deal contingency planning for Brexit would have been met with exasperation and incomprehension by residents and road users.

KCC leader Roger Gough
KCC leader Roger Gough

"However, this highlights how we need to get back to finding lasting solutions for lorry parking, borders and any disruption in the Straits.

"There is a wider issue around frictionless trade and the need to have arrangements for border checks and customs that were closely aligned to the existing ones.

"Post Brexit there will still be a very large volume of trade between the UK and mainland Europe travelling through Dover and Folkestone."

Ashford MP Damian Green echoed the call for a new lorry park, saying: "The long term contingency should still involve a lorry park or a series of lorry parks so you can take lorries off the motorway, but in an emergency Operation Brock will be better than Operation Stack was."

As things stand, the contingency plan for dealing with congestion and disruption along the M20 could be to revert back to its predecessor - Operation Stack.

A proposal for a lorry park off the M20 at Stanford, near Folkestone was dropped in 2017 ahead of a legal challenge by opponents.

KMTV reported as Operation Brock returned

Despite a pledge by the then transport secretary Chris Grayling there would be a public consultation in 2019 on possible sites, the government admitted last April it had yet to identify potential locations.

It emerged government officials had written to hundreds of landowners seeking permission to carry out ecological surveys.

The Department for Transport has been contacted for comment.

  • KCC leader Cllr Roger Gough will be among the guests on tonight's "Paul On Politics" show on KMTV at 5pm. Freeview 7 and Virgin 159.

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