Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has confirmed the government’s preferred site for a vast lorry park off the M20 to deal with the Operation Stack would be the one at Stanford West.
This decision follows a lengthy consultation on two possible sites, however building work on the park for 3,600 lorries is due to start "as soon as possible" with places available from 2017.
Mr McLoughlin stated that the lorry park would help keep the M20 moving when Operation Stack is implemented and there is disruption to cross-channel services. It will provide a long-term solution to the problems caused on the M20 and surrounding roads and would help companies to continue their business as normally as possible.
Despite the scheme dividing opinion, Chancellor George Osborne has allocated £250m for the scheme.
Mr Osborne said: “We are taking bold action to deal with the severe inconvenience suffered by people living and working in Kent when cross-channel services are affected.”
He added: "A long-term solution that will keep traffic moving has been talked about for decades, but now we are delivering it."
The transport secretary Mr McLoughlin continued by saying: “Operation Stack is only ever used as a last resort but we recognise the impact it has on roads in Kent and are determined to deliver an alternative solution.”
“The new lorry area by the M20 will improve journeys for drivers and will not only support the region’s economy but also businesses as far away as Scotland that rely on the M20 to access the Port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel.”
New entry and exit slip roads will be built on the eastbound carriageway of the M20, providing direct access to the lorry park. Meanwhile the government is also looking into whether the parking site could be used overnight in order to alleviate lorries parking in unsuitable or illegal locations.
Ashford MP Damian Green supports the scheme, and said: “This is good news for everyone in Kent as it shows the determination by the government to move on as fast as possible and if all goes to plan, places will be available next summer.”
He added: “We have years when Operation Stack does not happen but this is a very necessary insurance policy.”
Although the scheme has split opinions, the majority of people who took part in a consultation supported the idea of a lorry park, while less than a quarter thought that Operation Stack should continue in its current form.
The next stage of the project will involve consulting on the details and the environmental impact of the scheme. That consultation will open shortly.
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