Freight News, Road

Contraflow to keep Kent on the move

[ May 18, 2018   //   ]

Roads Minister, Jesse Norman, has revealed plans to keep traffic moving through Kent in the event of disruption to cross-Channel services.

It includes a new version of ‘Operation Stack’ with a contraflow on the northbound carriageway of the M20 between junctions 8 and 9 while lorries are being queued for the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel. This will prevent traffic having to be diverted onto smaller local roads.

The scheme will be available by early 2019.

The Department for Transport is also setting out plans to improve overnight lorry parking to reduce the number on local roads or parked in lay-bys overnight.

A public consultation on a permanent solution to Operation Stack, led by Highways England, will be launched shortly to ask  the freight industry, residents and businesses whether they would rather see an on-road solution or an off-road lorry park. An earlier plan for a large lorry park was dropped in November 2017, after companies affected by the scheme requested a judicial review.

Highways England will start work soon to enlarge the northbound hard shoulder of the M20, to allow for two-way traffic.

The announcement coincided with publication of the Department for Transport’s National lorry parking survey to highlight areas of England that need more overnight provision.

For the country as a whole, it found that 18,670 vehicles were parked overnight against a total capacity of 15,012 spaces, leaving a theoretical excess of 3,658 vehicles that could not park in an on site space.

The south-east of England, which includes Kent, was listed as one of the regions where demand exceeds or is close to exceeding capacity, although there was also significant pressure in most other areas of the country.

DfT says that work to address the truck parking problem is already under way with plans from private developers for an extra 1,000 additional spaces across the country, which will provide benefits across the UK, particularly in the south-east.

The government has asked Highways England to review and identify sites across its land holdings which could provide an extra 1,500 spaces, which would help reduce the number of lorries parking overnight in laybys.

Councils may also get further powers to take action against hauliers which park inappropriately. The first six months of an 18-month trial on the A20 in Kent have seen the numbers of vehicles being clamped cut in half, and an increase in the number of lorry drivers staying in commercial parking sites, it said.

The Freight Transport Association’s head of UK policy Christopher Snelling said the temporary solution was a good compromise to manage queues safely at the Channel ports during disruption, until a permanent lorry parking area can be built.

He added: “FTA’s members will be keen to see that the plan has been carefully thought through, to ensure the safety of the drivers using Stack and of others on these roads at those times, and we look forward to working with government to ensure that appropriate facilities are provided for those needing to wait on the motorway.”

FTA also welcomed the level of attention the Government is now giving driver facilities across the UK. It agrees Highways England could do more to help ensure these facilities exist across the Strategic Road Network, but believes local authorities also have a key role to play in encouraging and supporting applications to build and operate new facilities in the face of this pressing national need.

It said: “These policies won’t solve the problem overnight but we see today’s announcements as a good step in the right direction and now want to work with Government to ensure we develop the facilities that our lorry drivers need.”


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