The Stack Is Back!

Kent is suffering under Operation Stack once again, as heavy goods vehicles are parked up on the M20, forcing other traffic (including some wayward HGVs) to divert onto the county’s smaller main roads.  The knock-on effect is increased congestion across Kent, with many people taking to rural roads to avoid the jams and delays.  The estimated cost to Kent’s economy is £2 million per day.  While some may argue that this is an unfortunate situation, due to very bad weather in France and therefore uncontrollable, the root cause is an inability by the ferry companies to be able to transport vehicles across to the continent.  As Kent’s residents will know, there can be many other reasons for this, but the resulting chaos is always the same.

We recognise that Kent County Council are making efforts to resolve this problem, but unfortunately they still appear to be pursuing the singular solution of a huge lorry park at Aldington near Ashford.  CPRE Protect Kent have always been opposed to such a scheme, as it would be a ‘greenfield development’ that would deface Kent’s beautiful countryside. The proposed site is also agricultural land which will be in great demand as food security rises in importance in the future. This would be particularly disastrous, given the infrequent use such a lorry park is likely to get.

Protect Kent believes that the Port of Dover must be made to take some responsibility for the mayhem caused by Operation Stack, implemented whenever cross-channel travel slows.  We have argued on numerous occasions that the unused Western Docks could be to provide lorry parking for periods when travel is not possible for whatever reason.  We believe that a lorry park on agriculturally valuable land at Aldington would be incredibly flawed, especially when the real problem is still another 15 miles down the M20 towards Dover.  It is the Port’s inability to cope with incoming traffic which leads to this situation, so they should be building a lorry park to free the M20 and the people of Kent from the burden of Operation Stack.

This is not a new problem, but a final solution seems to be as far away as ever.

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