Highways England has revealed plans for a new lorry park in Kent to ease the disruption caused by Operation Stack.
Two potential sites near the M20 have been identified for the lorry area, along with four broad ways that could be used. Each option would help to prevent the need for the M20 to be closed when there is disruption to cross-channel services.
A Highways England consultation seeking public views on the proposals runs until 25 January.
Roads Minister Andrew Jones said: “The government’s long-term plan is to find a solution for the hard working people of Kent so they can continue to travel around the area freely, even when there is disruption to cross Channel services. A new lorry area will ease congestion as well as help the road haulage companies to operate more effectively.”
Highways England asset manager for Kent, Kevin Bown, added: “Summer 2015 saw the longest deployment of Operation Stack in its history, and underlined the need for long term improvements for dealing with cross channel disruption. A lorry area could help significantly reduce the likelihood of having to close the M20 in the future and also has the potential to improve facilities for lorries across the county in general.”
The proposed sites are both near junction 11 of the M20 near Stanford and can be easily accessed from the motorway. Their location would mean that they could potentially be used to help manage any disruption affecting either the Port of Dover or EuroTunnel services.
The possible uses of the site could range from emergency use only to providing truck stop facilities 24 hours a day.
The M20 was closed for 28 days this summer during disruptions to Channel crossings, causing chaos on Kent’s roads on leaving truck drivers stranded on the motorway for hours with no facilities.
Natalie Chapman, the Freight Transport Association’s (FTA) head of policy for London and the South East, said: “Kent desperately needs overnight facilities for lorry drivers to reduce the problem of trucks parking in villages and residential areas. We would urge Highways England to act quickly and consider providing a day-to-day facility for drivers that can also be used in emergencies instead of the Dover TAP and Operation Stack.
“Being stuck on the motorway in a slow-moving queue plays havoc with drivers’ hours and rest breaks so a dedicated waiting area is vital, but it’s also important that the lorries can be moved in and out of the lorry park to access the port and Eurotunnel when spaces are available so that ferries and trains are filled to capacity.”