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
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