The proposed plans of the lorry park are to help alleviate some of the issues caused by Operation Stack, a scheme in which trucks are parked up along the M20 motorway when there are delays at the European ports due to adverse weather, strikes, protests and migrant issues.
The government has set aside £250million to build a permanent lorry park near junction 11 of the M20, capable of holding around 4000 large goods vehicles.
The government have been accused of abandoning best practice in its haste to resolve the issues with Operation Stack.
The committee agrees that a solution is needed as Operation Stack regularly impacts haulage operations and daily costs estimated in the hundreds of thousands of pounds, however they concluded that the decision in creating a single truck park, roughly the size of Disneyland in California, was ‘rushed’.
The report from the committee follows up from the original inquiry and requests the government to prove their case in various ways which include:
• the cost-benefit ratios of alternatives to the lorry park
• whether the lorry park is a proportionate and appropriate solution to the scale and frequency of disruption associated with Operation Stack
• the environmental and social costs that the lorry park will impose on the locality
• the value of any benefits that the lorry park will bring locally and to the UK economy
• the long-term costs of operating, maintaining, renewing and, eventually, decommissioning the lorry park
Louise Ellman MP, Chair of the Committee said:
"The disruption caused by Operation Stack affects many people in Kent but this is not just a local issue. The routes to Dover and Folkestone are important nationally – they carry more than 80% of the road freight entering or leaving the UK.
The Government has settled on a lorry park as the best solution but what they are proposing is on a vast scale and could cost up to a quarter of a billion pounds.
Ministers need to do more in order to justify this spending and it should do more to demonstrate why a lorry park roughly the size of Disneyland in California is better than the alternatives we heard about during our inquiry.
We are not saying that the Government should not press ahead with its proposal, only that it has more work to do to persuade us of the business case for this investment."
Malcolm Bingham, FTA Head of Road Network Management Policy said:
“The implementation of the queuing system which we have seen on numerous occasions causes major disruption, not only for the drivers in Operation Stack but also for Kent’s businesses and residents, and we need a solution.
There needs to be a managed flow of traffic to the port and tunnel. If a large lorry area is the answer, then the residents of Kent deserve an explanation of what the need is and how it will work. Equally if that is not the solution, any alternatives need to be fully explored.
We want to keep the wheels of industry turning so it is essential to manage the impact of cross-Channel disruption in the best possible way and involve the logistics industry in the creation of the solution.
We must urgently press ahead with a plan that will protect drivers, their vehicles and the £89 billion of trade which passes through this route each year. Additionally the UK and French governments must work together to ensure that we do not have another summer of discontent with striking workers which was one of the main causes of the chaos we saw in Kent last year.”