Published: 11:01, 25 July 2020
| Updated: 15:22, 27 July 2020
Manston Airport and a field in Dover are among four Kent sites earmarked for conversion into lorry parks for customs checks after Brexit, according to a person familiar with the plans.
It's been reported by a national news website that the Dover site next to the White Cliffs Business Park, less than a 10-minute drive from the coast, will have capacity for 1,200 trucks.
Plans are not yet complete but if they continue to move forward, space will also be provided for 5,800 trucks at Manston Airport near Ramsgate, while a site at Waterbrook Park in Ashford, will cater for a further 950 lorries.
Work has already started on another facility in Ashford, which will have capacity for 2,000 trucks.
It was known that consultants were paid £3.8 million by the government to find a location for a lorry park as an alternative to Operation Stack, with more than 100 potential sites subsequently identified across Kent.
Where they are has never been disclosed until now.
It comes after Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said last month the government is seeking to buy five sites in the county for customs checks.
Set to be introduced at the end of the year, it will be the first time in 30 years customs controls on goods moving to and from the European Union have been required.
The Dover-Calais crossing is used by about 10,000 lorries a day.
Speculation of a lorry park in the Whitfield area began in December 2018 when home-owners received a letter form Highways England stating their plans to find a permanent solution to Operation Stack.
Peculiarly, the documentation asked to inspect people's properties for great crested newts – the UK's most heavily protected amphibian species.
It is standard practice for ecological surveys to be done before highways work to check for such rare species.
Nigel Collor, DDC's portfolio holder for transport, licensing and community said: “We’re aware of plans by the Department of Transport to develop a network of temporary lorry parks as part of the Brexit preparations, including a potential site in Whitfield.The site is not owned by the Council.
“Our primary concern is that local traffic is not disrupted by border delays
“We’re pressing the Government for improvements to key junctions on approach routes to the Port of Dover, including the Whitfield and Duke of York’s roundabouts.”
The Department for Transport said it is looking at a range of sites where vehicles will be able to stop temporarily to have paperwork checked.
A DfT spokesperson said: “Preparations for the end of the transition period are well under way to ensure the free flow of freight across our borders. This includes exploring options for permanent facilities to complete new border process, as well as contingency plans in place to minimise any potential short-term disruption.
“A range of sites are under consideration to be used by HMRC as an Office of Departure, where HGVs will stop temporarily to process their common transit movements and have their paperwork confirmed before continuing their journey.”