Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has announced a major new lorry area will be created near Stanford in Kent as a long-term solution to the problems caused on the M20 and surrounding roads when Operation Stack is used.
It will help keep the M20 moving during disruption to cross-channel services, helping companies go about their business and other drivers and residents go about their lives as normally as possible. Operation Stack was used on a record 32 days last year as the area was hit with unprecedented disruption in the summer. Following this, in last year’s Autumn Statement the government announced it would be providing up to £250 million for a permanent lorry area.
Chancellor George Osborne said: “We are taking bold action to deal with the severe inconvenience suffered by people living and working in Kent when cross-channel services are affected.
“A long-term solution that will keep traffic moving has been talked about for decades, but now we are delivering it. I look forward to construction starting as soon as possible.”
Patrick McLoughlin, Secretary of State for Transport, added: “Operation Stack is only ever used as a last resort but we recognise the impact it has on roads in Kent, and are determined to deliver an alternative solution.
“The new lorry area by the M20 will deliver better journeys for drivers and will not only support the region’s economy but also businesses as far away as Scotland that rely on the M20 to access the Port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel.
“We have committed up to £250 million for the lorry area and we are now making it a reality.”
The government is exploring using the site for overnight parking of lorries, relieving pressure caused by some drivers parking in unsuitable or illegal locations. The lorry area will provide parking for up to 3,600 lorries. A Highways England consultation showed strong support for a permanent lorry area to reduce or remove the need to close the M20. New entry and exit slip roads will be built on the eastbound carriageway, providing direct access to the lorry park.
Jim O’Sullivan, Highways England chief executive said: “The Secretary of State has asked us to progress a lorry area between Sellindge and Stanford. Direct access from the M20 means less lorries using local roads.
“We will work closely with residents and local stakeholders to ensure the design of the new lorry area minimises its social and environmental impact, while meeting the wider need to address this issue for Kent and the UK.”
More than 1,000 drivers, residents and workers attended eight public events during the consultation on the lorry park and nearly 1,300 people provided written responses to the proposals. The majority of people supported the idea of creating a new lorry area, with less than a quarter thinking Operation Stack should continue in its current form.