Airfield to become Operation Stack lorry park

August 5 2015  

Airfield to become Operation Stack lorry park

Manston Airfield is to be temporarily used to relieve pressure on the M20 when Operation Stack is in effect, the Department for Transport (DfT) has announced.

The disused airport near Ramsgate in east Kent will provide short term additional capacity to help Kent County Council, Highways England and Kent Police manage freight traffic on its way to the Port of Dover. Freight travelling via the Channel Tunnel will still queue on the M20.

Transport Minister Lord Ahmad said: “Working together we have found a viable short-term solution to the disruption residents and industry in the M20 corridor from Dover to Maidstone have been experiencing in recent weeks as a result of Operation Stack.

“By using Manston Airfield we have secured an interim solution while we work to find a longer term resolution, which meets the needs of the whole of Kent and of course the interests of British industry.”

Use of the airfield will be kept under review and impacts will be monitored on local routes and at the Port of Dover.

Freight Transport Association deputy chief executive James Hookham said: “Anything that relieves pressure on the M20 and surrounding roads is to be welcomed, especially at the busiest time of year for freight and tourist traffic.

The DfT has also pledged to improve the signing of diversion routes around Operation Stack to help alleviate the impact of closing the M20 on Kent’s road users. The action was discussed at an emergency summit on Friday between Transport Minister Andrew Jones, Kent County Council, Kent Police and Highways England.

Motorists and local communities have been critical that diversion signs directing motorists around the closure onto other routes have not always been very clear.

“The residents, businesses and tourists affected are desperate for some new thinking to ease the pain of lorry queues on the M20 and additional traffic threading through towns and villages which have sadly become the norm,” said RAC spokesman Simon Williams.

Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce chief executive Jo James said: “It is true that the diversion signage could be better.”

She added: “My fear is that the Government is putting focus on looking at temporary measures to Operation Stack when it should also be seriously considering long term solutions. Unless that happens we will still be having these discussions years from now.”

(Photo: Barry Davis and licensed for reuse under this Creative Common Licence)

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