The Freight Transport Association has expressed dismay at the sudden closure of Alconbury Truck Stop on the A14 from Friday 31 August 2007. The privately operated site provided secure facilities for 215 lorries and was a permitted parking area for hazardous loads which are obliged to park in appropriate locations offering security and safety for the load. As the truckstop is a commercial operation, the Highways Agency and the district council have been powerless to prevent its closure.
Natalie Chapman, FTA's Regional Policy Manager for East of England said: 'Alconbury is the latest in a catalogue of truck stop closures across the country. The effect of shutting down the facility has been compounded by closure of a number of laybys along the A14 which is a strategically important trade route linking the east coast container ports of Felixstowe and Harwich to the Midlands.
'Truck drivers operate under strict drivers' hours rules requiring regular breaks and rests for road safety reasons. The Government must not legislate for frequent stops by drivers and then fail to ensure that appropriate facilities are available for vehicles to park up.
'At present, the provision of truck parking facilities on the Strategic Road Network is piecemeal with many councils wary of the impact truck stops can have on a local area. A national strategy is needed that is championed by Government and which places an obligation on highways authorities to ensure that they not only keep the traffic moving but that they also provide facilities for vehicles to stop. Planning rules must also restrict land use designations for existing truck stops to 'lorry parking areas'. This will help safeguard existing facilities from speculative commercial development.
'The Alconbury closure demonstrates all the worst features of the current approach. With no apparent contingency planning in place to accommodate the displaced trucks, drivers will inevitably have to make do and mend using industrial estates and local roads which lack appropriate facilities and impact on local residents.'