You may have seen ‘operation stack’ all over the news, this week with the release of the new plans for the ‘lorry park’ in the Kent area. But what will this ‘lorry park’ include? And how will it alleviate the issues we currently face?
First of all, the park is set to have 3,600 spaces for lorries and is rumoured to be roughly the same size as Disneyland, California, with Stanford West being the preferred location for build.
There seems to be a shortfall when you compare that to the 5,700 lorries that were stacked on the M20 in Kent for 30 days during disruption to Eurotunnel services last summer. We certainly hope that the government have got their estimations correct as it doesn’t take a mathematician to work out that 3,600 parking spaces will not cover 5,700 lorries, and that’s not even a worst case scenario.
Operation stack was actually created in 1996 when there was disruption with channel-crossings and has since been used intermittently over the years. The activities were co-ordinated by Kent police and highway officers by closing three junctions of the M20 in the London/Kent area, totalling enough space for 5,700 lorries.
To alleviate the likelihood of operation stack needing to make another appearance, construction work is set to begin as soon as possible; on the £250m parking facilities set to be open by next summer.
There are major concerns within the transport industry that this money could be spent more wisely across the board on prospects such as rail freight, the lower Thames crossing and the existing road network.
Let’s think about health and safety too, residents could be living only 100 metres from an emissions filled site. Surely, that’s cause for concern, too? It is felt, generally, that the government has not thought this through thoroughly and are just throwing money at the problem.
Locals in the Kent area were hoping to see the government opt for a ‘virtual queueing’ system whereby cross-Channel operators could allocate lorry drivers a place in a list for arriving at Dover or the Eurotunnel base to board ferries or trains. It would be then up to the driver whether to wait or continue to the port based on traffic/weather conditions.
Easing congestion and the emissions issue on the whole – an option that definitely seems worthy enough to explore further.
What are your thoughts? Do you think the lorry parking will make for a good investment? Or will it cause a whole host of other issues? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!