Ministers have reaffirmed their commitment to a permanent alternative to Operation Stack after dropping plans for a lorry park at a specific location, but Highways England is also looking at an ‘innovative’ plan to store lorries in the centre of the live motorway.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has informed the High Court that it will withdraw plans for a lorry park at Stanford West, Kent, which was due to be subject to a judicial review hearing next month.
Roads minister Jesse Norman said: ‘We know how seriously the lives of Kent residents and the prospects of businesses were affected when Operation Stack was implemented in 2015 and we remain fully committed to a permanent solution.
‘However, we need to go through the proper procedures to ensure our plans, which include a lorry park, best fit the needs of Kent and the freight industry.
‘In the meantime we are developing an interim measure to keep the M20 open to traffic in both directions if Operation Stack is implemented – ensuring disruption is kept to a minimum.’
The DfT said Highways England will now develop new plans for a permanent solution, including a lorry park, to cope with disruption on Kent roads caused by cross-channel disruption as well as providing daily parking for lorries.
Operation Stack involves using the M20 itself as a temporary lorry park. The DfT said Highways England is now developing an ‘interim innovative plan’ to allow motorists to carry on using the M20 when Operation Stack is implemented. This could see a dual carriageway created on the M20 by using moveable or steel barriers to safely store lorries in the centre of the motorway.
It said this solution should be in place by March 2019, with more details to be confirmed early next year.
An arrangement with Manston Airfield is also being extended to allow it to continue to be used during severe cross-Channel disruption.