Move­able bar­rier or off-road lorry park?

The county coun­cil set it­self a 12-week dead­line to find a so­lu­tion to the dis­rup­tion of Op­er­a­tion Stack. Alan Smith fol­lows the progress as the half­way point nears

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - OPERATION STACK -

THE Ken­tish Ex­press led the pub­lic out­cry in Jan­uary af­ter the county ground to a halt for the third time in a few weeks when the M20 was again used as a gi­ant lorry park.

Kent Po­lice and Kent County Coun­cil were quick to agree that some­thing had to be done.

In Fe­bru­ary, KCC leader Cllr Paul Carter set up a task force of all in­ter­ested par­ties to in­ves­ti­gate the pos­si­ble so­lu­tions – and set a 12-week dead­line for their re­port.

This week the county’s head of plan­ning and trans­port strat­egy, Mick Sutch, said that progress was be­ing made and that it hoped to present a num­ber of sug­ges­tions to trans­port min­is­ter Steve Ladyman in May.

Mr Sutch said: “The High­ways Agency has been look­ing at the pos­si­bil­ity of move­able bar­ri­ers that could be laid on the M20 be­tween junc­tions 11 and 12 to main­tain a two-lane con­traflow.

“That could be done quickly, but it would be ex­pen­sive and, at best, al­lows us to park only around 850 ve­hi­cles on the coast­bound car­riage­way.

“In re­cent times that has scarcely proved enough. And in sit­u­a­tions where the [Chan­nel] Tun­nel is still open and there has to be two lorry queues, it would be fewer than 850.

“We are look­ing at the pro­vi­sion of an emer­gency lorry park and we are closely in­ves­ti­gat­ing four or five sites. But, of course, they will not be needed of­ten, so they would have to be pro­vided in a sen­si­tive man­ner, per­haps with grass­crete, to pro­vide the nec­es­sary strength to take the lor­ries’ weight, but still main­tain­ing a green out­look. The Gov­ern­ment is also sep­a­rately work­ing up a busi­ness model for the pro­vi­sion of a full lorry park that could pro­vide overnight park­ing and per­haps other fa­cil­i­ties, such as an in­spec­tion site for VOSA (The Ve­hi­cle and Op­er­a­tor Ser­vices Agency).”

Mr Sutch was con­fi­dent that the task force would meet the dead­line and said: “If there is fur­ther de­lay, it will be be­cause of the need to se­cure an ap­point­ment with the min­is­ter.”

Lor­ries pile up on the mo­tor­way as Op­er­a­tion Stack swings into ac­tion

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