The government is being urged to find locations for lorry parks outside Kent as part of future plans to manage traffic in the event of disruption and delays around the Channel ports.
Kent County Council says that Operation Stack has been ‘compromised’ and it is now no longer possible to trigger all the phases necessary to implement it.
Op Stack is when lorries park or "stack" on the motorway when there is disruption to services at the crossings, including the Channel Tunnel or the Port of Dover.
This can be due to bad weather, industrial action, fire or derailments in the tunnel, or amid increased security checks and border checks at either the port or at the tunnel.
Council officials say the decision by the Department for Transport to decommission the Manston airport site as an emergency lorry park, coupled with the implementation of the sixty-acre Sevington site in Ashford as an Inland Border Facility for customs checks, has left a question mark over how HGVs would be managed in the long term.
Barbara Cooper, the county council’s director of growth, environment and transport, told a meeting of the cabinet: “We know the DfT only has Manston until the end of June; in the interim we need to know what our plans going forward are.
"We would be unable to implement all stages of Operation Stack because Sevington compromises the latest stages. We are working closely with the DfT to work out what the plans are for traffic management going forward. Ideally we would like sites outside Kent because then congestion would be outside Kent.”
Manston closed at the weekend, in a move generally welcomed by both politicians and businesses.
KCC leader Cllr Roger Gough said while some of the fears about problems around the ports post-Brexit had not been realised “there are other challenges ahead.”
“While Manston may have moved out of the picture in many respects it raises other challenges evolving as we move ahead,” he said.
The government announced last week the timetable for border controls was to change, giving more time for businesses to adjust.
Customs declarations will be required from 1 January 2022 and not 1 July 2021, as originally planned.
Checks on agri-food and feed, due to come in next month, are to be delayed from April until October.
Cabinet minister Michael Gove said the delays were in response to businesses making “a strong case that they need more time to prepare” and to “the disruption which has been caused, and is still being caused by Covid and the need to ensure that the economy can recover fully”