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Government says its committed to building lorry park to deal with Operation Stack issues in Kent

By Paul Francis

The government says it remains committed to building a lorry holding area in the county to deal with Operation Stack.

And it has revealed that it is re-examining planning policy to see if there are ways of speeding up the process of building additional lorry parks.

Ministers have also confirmed that a new consultation will get underway in spring over where a permanent lorry park could be built.

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Operation Stack on the M20, July 2015
Operation Stack on the M20, July 2015

It follows a debate called by the Faversham and Mid Kent MP Helen Whately in the Commons yesterday, during which she said there had to be a way of speeding up the planning process.

She said: "Lorry parking is not a new problem but it is getting worse and it is time to fix it. We must build more lorry parks.

"That seems deceptively simple. Lorry parks in Kent are turning people away. Ashford lorry park turned away 252 people in a single night.

“What can we do to make sure that the shortfall in places is met? I recognise that fast-forwarding planning permission for lorry parks is difficult but when we get that holding area for lorries during Operation Stack can we make sure that is used for overnight lorry parking as well?

Helen Whately, MP for Faversham and Mid Kent
Helen Whately, MP for Faversham and Mid Kent

“I would like to see lorry parks included in all major road improvement schemes including one that is coming our way in the form of the Lower Thames crossing.”

Roads minister Jesse Norman said: “There is no doubt that there is a shortage of overnight parking in Kent and more widely and for services to enable drivers to take a break.

“The situation is far from hopeless and there are a number of initiatives underway to address the current mismatch between supply and demand.

“The government can play a part in facilitating provision. We remain committed to providing a permanent solution to the issue of lorry parking in the county.

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 initial public consultation on this that Highways England expects to launch in the spring will also see views on the use of the park for business-as-usual overnight parking.”

He said the government was looking into the issue of planning permission for lorry parks.

He added: "We are examining how best to ensure the strategic importance of lorry parks are given due weight in planning decisions.”

The government was forced to scrap its plan for a huge lorry park at Stanford, near Folkestone, last year.

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