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Operation Stack: Court hearing for lorry park plans off M20 put back until October

A court hearing over plans for a huge lorry park off the M20 to deal with Operation Stack has been put back until October - effectively ending any hope that part of it will be open for HGVs this year.

Opponents of the 250-acre scheme, which would hold up to 3,600 lorries at a site near Hythe when Operation Stack is in place, say a Judicial Review planned for next month will now be scheduled for October.

The delay is partly linked to the general election and is associated with the fact that the Department for Transport has not yet responded to a request by the owner of Westenhanger Castle to consider a compromise deal.

Operation Stack creates chaos in Kent
Operation Stack creates chaos in Kent

According to Matthew Webb, the chairman of Stanford Parish Council and leading member of the campaign group SOS Kent (Smarter Options than Stanford for Kent) the DfT is unable to make any decisions during what is known as the election purdah period.

The delay effectively ends any prospect that part of the park could be up and running at some point this year, as the Department for Transport had hoped.

Opponents believe they can contest the plans by arguing that the government should have conducted a full environmental impact assessment and the scheme should have been progressed through a Development Consent Order because it is nationally significant development.

Highways England has previously said there is no requirement for planning permission as it has separate powers to ensure there is sufficient holding areas for HGVs.

Last year, we revealed the cost of keeping the former Manston airport on standby as an emergency lorry park for Operation Stack has cost the taxpayer at least £3.5 million.

The Department for Transport has paid the owners of the 800-acre site £3.539m to prepare and maintain the site in the event of Operation Stack being implemented.

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