Government withdraws Kent lorry park plan after conceding judicial review

The government has announced that it is withdrawing proposals to construct a lorry park in Kent which had been planned to provide a solution to potential cross-Channel ferry disruption.

Dover: lorry park legal fight abandoned
Dover: lorry park legal fight abandoned

The proposed lorry park at Stanford, near Folkestone, was designed to alleviate the impact of ‘Operation Stack’, which is the process by which lorries are parked on the M20 motorway in Kent if there is disruption to cross-Channel traffic.

But transport secretary Chris Grayling this week announced that the government was withdrawing the plans for the lorry park.  

He said it had not been possible to defend a judicial review which had been lodged against the plan by local campaigners on the grounds that the government had not carried out an environmental impact assessment of the scheme. The campaigners also claimed that the project should have been subject to a development consent order (DCO).

Government agency Highways England was to develop the facility using powers available under Section 115 of the Highways Act 1980, replacing the need for a planning application.

Grayling said the government would now start to look at alternative solutions.

"We are immediately starting the process to promote a lorry park through the normal planning process, including a full environmental impact assessment, as a potential permanent solution to Operation Stack," he said.

"As part of this we will reassess the scope, scale and location of our solutions, taking into account changes since the original concept of the lorry park was promoted."

Highways England has been tasked with looking at alternative solutions, including a new assessment of the options for holding large numbers of lorries at a site near the M20, and an interim solution that would hold freight traffic on the motorway while keeping it open in both directions for other vehicles.

The government agency said a decision on the interim option being taken forward would be announced in early 2018, with delivery complete by March 2019.

"Improvements at the port, and changes we have made to traffic management on the A20 near Dover, have delivered real improvements and have also helped prevent Operation Stack from being implemented," said Highways England project director John Kerner.

"Along with our partners we are better prepared than ever, but a better plan for dealing with more widespread disruption is still needed."


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