In a report launched today (1 June 2016), the Transport Select Committee said that the government is right to seek a solution to the disruption caused by Operation Stack, but that the decision to proceed at pace with its proposal for a lorry park had left behind some of the usual best practice when spending such large sums of money.
The Committee found that the government's decision to proceed was rushed in reaction to the events of the summer of 2015 when Operation Stack was used longer than ever before.
The government has set aside £250 million to build a permanent lorry park near junction 11 of the M20, capable of holding around 4,000 large goods vehicles.
Last week Balfour Beatty landed the contract to proceed with the works.
This will require an area of land equivalent in size to 90 football pitches (about the same size as Disneyland in California). It would be on a scale unprecedented in Europe, with just one other lorry park in the world rivalling it for size.
The Committee called on transport ministers to demonstrate the necessity of building the lorry park, including:
- The cost-benefit ratios of alternatives to the lorry park
- Whether the lorry park is a proportionate and appropriate solution to the scale and frequency of disruption associated with Operation Stack
- The environmental and social costs that the lorry park will impose on the locality
- The value of any benefits that the lorry park will bring locally and to the UK economy, and
- The long-term costs of operating, maintaining, renewing and, eventually, decommissioning the lorry park.
Launching the report, Louise Ellman MP, chair of the Committee said: “The disruption caused by Operation Stack affects many people in Kent but this is not just a local issue. The routes to Dover and Folkestone are important nationally – they carry more than 80% of the road freight entering or leaving the UK.
"The government has settled on a lorry park as the best solution but what they are proposing is on a vast scale and could cost up to quarter of a billion pounds.
“Ministers need to do more in order to justify this spending and it should do more to demonstrate why a lorry park roughly the size of Disneyland in California is better than the alternatives we heard about during our inquiry.
"We are not saying that the government should not press ahead with its proposal, only that it has more work to do to persuade us of the business case for this investment.”