MPs say ‘rushed’ lorry park needs more thought

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - News -

The case for a huge lorry park to deal with Op­er­a­tion Stack has not been proved, say MPs who have ex­am­ined the plans.

A re­port pub­lished yes­ter­day (Wed­nes­day) by the Trans­port Se­lect Com­mit­tee said while the govern­ment was right to seek a so­lu­tion to the dis­rup­tion caused by Op­er­a­tion Stack, the de­ci­sion to build a lorry park was rushed and “left be­hind some of the usual best prac­tice when spend­ing such large sums of money.”

The plans were in re­sponse to wide­spread dis­rup­tion caused by Op­er­a­tion Stack last sum­mer.

The Chan­cel­lor an­nounced that £250mil­lion would be al­lo­cated for a per­ma­nent lorry park near junc­tion 11 of the M20, ca­pa­ble of hold­ing around 4000 HGVs, on a site the same size as Dis­ney­land.

The cross-party group said that given the scale of the scheme, it re­quired full and care­ful eval­u­a­tion of the plan and al­ter­na­tives.

Their re­port told the gov­ern- ment to demon­strate the ne­ces­sity for the lorry park, in­clud­ing:

Whether al­ter­na­tives to the lorry park rep­re­sented bet­ter value for money;

Whether the lorry park was “a pro­por­tion­ate and ap­pro­pri­ate so­lu­tion to the scale and fre­quency of dis­rup­tion as­so­ci­ated with Op­er­a­tion Stack”;

What en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­cial costs the scheme would im­pose on the lo­cal area;

The value of any ben­e­fits the park would bring lo­cally and to the UK econ­omy;

The long-term costs of oper­at­ing, main­tain­ing, re­new­ing and, even­tu­ally, de­com­mis­sion­ing the lorry park.

Louise Ell­man MP, chair­man of the com­mit­tee said: “We are not say­ing 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.

“The dis­rup­tion caused by Op­er­a­tion Stack af­fects many peo­ple in Kent but this is not just a lo­cal is­sue.

“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.”

She added: “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.”

Pic­ture: Gary Browne FM3945004

Op­er­a­tion Stack be­tween Junc­tion 9 and 10 of the M20 - MPs say the case for a lorry park is not proved

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