A year ago thousands of trucks were stranded on the M20 in Kent in Operation Stack due to closure of the Channel Tunnel. Twelve months on Highways England is consulting on alternatives to the motorway queuing system and the Freight Transport Association (FTA) is backing a lorry area at Stanford West.
Highways England put two proposed lorry area sites out for public consultation in December after a summer of chaos on Kent’s motorways. Operation Stack was implemented on 32 days in 2015 and the FTA has been pressing for action.
Natalie Chapman, FTA’s Head of Policy for London and the South East, said: “It is vital to find a permanent solution to Operation Stack to prevent the chaos we saw on the M20 last summer. Highway’s England’s proposed site at Stanford West is close to the motorway and near enough to the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel so that trucks can be quickly released when capacity is available.”
Ms Chapman said the site could accommodate the 3,600 lorries held in stages 1 and 2 of Operation Stack and could be directly linked to the Stop 24 services, which has existing facilities for drivers.
The FTA believes the second option – Stanford North – would cause issues for local traffic, even with suggested improvements to the B2068. Public exhibitions detailing the two sites and four ways in which they could be used (from full-time to emergencies only) were held throughout December. The consultation closes today and the FTA has submitted a detailed response supporting the Stanford West option.
Operation Stack was first introduced in 1988 during a strike at Folkestone Docks and has been frequently implemented since during disruptions at the port or Channel Tunnel. Stage 4 was put in place for the first time last summer, closing both the coast-bound and London-bound carriageways of the M20.
The former runway at Manston Airport is currently on standby to be used if there are further disruptions but its location and local road infrastructure mean it is not an ideal solution.