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KCC leader: Freight traffic is a 'significant burden'

CLLR PAUL CARTER: "Kent is suffering enormously because of the level of freight movement on our roads"
CLLR PAUL CARTER: "Kent is suffering enormously because of the level of freight movement on our roads"

KENT is paying out "several millions pounds a year" repairing broken roads and cleaning up filth caused by European freight traffic, a senior councillor has revealed.

Kent County Council leader Paul Carter said the extra cost of ferrying thousands of lorries to and from Europe on local roads was enormous, and urged the Government to start charging foreign freight drivers to use UK roads in order to fund alternative measures.

He said: "Kent is suffering enormously because of the level of freight movement on our roads.

"When Operation Stack is in place, or if there is a motorway accident, the lorries move on to the A and B roads, park all over the place and then leave all manner of muck, filth and rubbish behind them."

He added: "We pay several million pounds a year on repairs and cleaning up drivers' rubbish, which puts a significant burden on taxpayers."

The number of lorries entering the country through Kent has increased by around eight per cent every year for the last eight years.

Around one lorry in seven is foreign freight that does not pay any duty on using UK roads. The rest are British lorry drivers, who pay upwards of £40,000 in road and fuel tax each year according to the Freight Transport Association.

To tackle the issue, KCC is finalising a government proposal in conjunction with Kent Police and relevant district councils for an alternative to Operation Stack to be set up, which would see a new large lorry park built at an undisclosed site along the M20.

Mr Carter said the project could be funded by the implementation of the 'vignette' system, which charges foreign lorry drivers to use UK roads.

He added: "The Government should introduce the 'vignette' system and give a significant proportion of the profits to KCC for the wear and tear on our roads.

"They should also agree an alternative to Operation Stack, build far more lorry park facilities in the South East, and put a decent testing station on the M20 to pick up on European vehicles unfit to be on the roads."

A spokesman for the Department of Transport (DoT) said the Highways Agency was working closely with KCC and other partners to find a long term solution to Operation Stack to avoid disruption to road users, including the possibility of a new long-term lorry park.

He said: "The agency is also proceeding with the scheme to provide Quick Moveable Barriers on the M20 in the Folkestone area.

"No decisions have been taken on the vignette system. Our Freight Data Feasibility Study is ongoing."

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