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Plan to use Manston site in the event of 'no deal' Brexit make no sense says MP Charlie Elphicke

By Paul Francis

Fresh concerns have been raised about the use of the former Manston airport site as part of contingency plans to hold thousands of lorries in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Members of the Dover Brexit ‘taskforce’ met last week and reiterated their concerns at the use of Manston as a key part of Operation Brock, saying using it to hold up to 6000 lorries could itself cause major problems.

Dover MP Charlie Elphicke said that using the airport site made no sense and that it would not work.

Charlie Elphicke MP. Picture from the office of Charlie Elphicke. (7675233)
Charlie Elphicke MP. Picture from the office of Charlie Elphicke. (7675233)

“The idea that lorries will leave the M20, cross Detling Hill and go to Manston makes little sense. An even greater concern is that lorries would then be expected to travel down the often single track A256 and then enter the port by the A2's single track section. I fear this will not work and leave Dover and Deal cut off.”

A trial carried out in January travelling to and from Manston and the Port of Dover was widely criticised as not being realistic.

Country transport chiefs and Highways England defended the dress rehearsal and said they had learned lessons from it - despite the numbers being a fraction of the 10,000 lorries that is estimated may need to be 'held' in the county on a routine basis.

The task force is made up of council officials and businesses alongside local MPs Charlie Elphicke (Dover) and Craig Mackinlay (South Thanet).

Meanwhile, Kent MPs seem likely to be on both sides of the Brexit debate in tomorrow's second "meaningful" vote in what will be a make-or-break week for the government.

There is growing speculation that the Prime Minister is facing yet another defeat in the Commons tomorrow amid deadlock in the talks with EU officials.

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