Controversial plans for a lorry park on a 70-acre site off the M20 near Ashford have faced further criticism from county councillors.
The criticism came after Kent County Council transport chiefs were questioned this week about the progress they were making on the proposal and admitted a planning application for the temporary lorry park might not be made until the start of 2010.
The park plan was debated by backbench county councillors on KCC’s Highways Board this week. They were told that the council had commissioned consultants to assess the impact Operation Stack had on the Kent economcy but the report would not be ready for six months.
They were also told that council officials are to meet the Environment Agency over the risk of flooding on the site near Aldington and that there was still no resolution to the issue of who would pay for the park. A confidential report obtained by KM Group in September revealed how the site was on poor foundations and vulnerable to flooding.
Cllr Susan Carey, a long-standing critic of the plan, delivered an assault and accused the council of treating the symptoms of Operation Stack rather than the cause.
She said: “We have gone about this the wrong way around. We’ve come up with a single solution to the symptoms and not the cause. I am not yet convinced the lorry park is part of the solution.”
Instead of commissioning a report on the economic impact of Operation Stack, KCC should be drawing up a strategy to tackle the wider issue of how to manage freight lorries running through Kent. “This is not KCC at its best,” she said.
Labour spokesman Cllr Roger Truelove said the way KCC had handled the proposal was an embarrassment. “Can we have an assurance that this is urgent and all these things will be done and there will not be endless delays?” he asked.
Ashford councillor Elizabeth Tweed (Con) said she feared the park plan would never get off the ground. She said: “It rather seems as if the scheme might fall flat on its face if the government won’t come up with the money.”
Answering questions about the scheme, Behdad Haratbar, KCC’s head of countywide improvements, said the authority continued to talk with the government over who would pay.