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Plan for Stack lorry park at Aldington could be ditched

Operation Stack
Operation Stack

Exclusive by political editor Paul Francis

Michael Howard
Michael Howard

Folkestone and Hythe MP Michael Howard says he will do everything in his power to fight against plans for a huge lorry park off the M20 at Aldington to cope with Operation Stack.

Speaking at a transport summit arranged by Kent County Counil at Westminster to highlight its 'Enough is Enough' campaign to end Stack, Mr Howard said: "If there is going to have to be a lorry park, over my dead body will it be here."

KCC leader Cllr Paul Carter said he was open to the idea there may be other locations for a lorry park and did not rule out other options.

Several of the county's MPs have openly questioned whether a lorry park could solve the problems caused by Operation Stack and suggested it might never be built.

Cllr Paul Carter, Kent County Council leader
Cllr Paul Carter, Kent County Council leader

Cllr Carter said that while the 70-acre site at Aldington remained KCC's preferred option, he was open to other suggestions.

He said: "We are not precious about the location of the site. If people come forward with a different proposal that would do the same job and cost less, we will look at it."

The council is facing widespread local opposition over its plans and the Government has ruled out meeting any of the estimated £40million costs. A planning application for the site has been delayed while an environmental survey is completed.

Mr Howard told the summit KCC’s site was not the best option and he would fight against it.

He said: "A national problem does not mean a local solution and it does not mean a lorry park on the site that has been the preferred site of the county council, which has caused widespread indignation on the part of people who will be most affected."

He called on KCC to release details of the other sites it had considered, saying he had no response to his requests for the information.

Reservations were also expressed by Ashford MP Damian Green, who said it would be better to focus on alternative solutions, such as re-examining the case for extending the use of a moveable barrier.

Outside Kent not many people cared about the impact of Operation Stack, he said.

"If we are going to get around to finding a solution any time soon, it is going to be a solution in Kent. Maybe we have been too quick to dismiss the quick moveable barrier. It may be that a 12-mile long barrier would give us parking space for several thousand lorries."

Doubts on the feasibility of a lorry park were also raised by the chief executive of Dover council, Nadeem Aziz. "I do not think a single solution is achievable. At the very least, you will need one off the M2 and one off the M20."

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