End to Stack in sight

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - OFF THE RECORD - by Paul Francis

Op­er­a­tion Stack so­lu­tions to be an­nounced in weeks

HOPES are ris­ing that a so­lu­tion to Op­er­a­tion Stack has been found af­ter county coun­cil chiefs met Trans­port Min­is­ter and Kent MP Dr Steve Ladyman.

County trans­port chiefs have iden­ti­fied two po­ten­tial sites for a semi-per­ma­nent lorry park close to the M20, nei­ther of which is on pro­tected land or Ar­eas of Out­stand­ing Nat­u­ral Beauty, mean­ing they could be more eas­ily de­vel­oped as a lorry park.

KCC said it would not iden­tify ei­ther site at this stage to al­low talks with other or­gan­i­sa­tions, in­clud­ing lo­cal coun­cils, to take place.

How­ever, an an­nounce­ment on the way for­ward is ex­pected to be made within weeks.

Cllr Keith Fer­rin (Con), KCC’s cabi­net mem­ber for trans­port, said: “I be­lieve we have turned a cor­ner and are on course to see­ing the end of Op­er­a­tion Stack. The talks we had were very pro­duc­tive and we are pleased with the out­come.”

The Gov­ern­ment will also an­nounce the green light for a sep- arate pro­posal for the quickchange move­able bar­rier, which is likely to be avail­able ear­lier than a park. This would be a bar­rier of con­crete units which could be “un­zipped” by a lorry along the worst-af­fected stretches of the mo­tor­way.

While the costs are high – £5.2mil­lion for the stretch be­tween Junc­tions 11 and 12 of the M20 and £6.9mil­lion for Junc­tions 8 to 9 – it could be put in place in un­der three hours and could also be used dur­ing ma­jor road­works else­where.

Dr Ladyman said: “We had a very con­struc­tive meet­ing. Both KCC and I are in agree­ment about what we need to do and the time scale in which it should hap­pen.

“But we do need to con­sult with oth­ers, like Kent Po­lice and dis­trict coun­cils first.”

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