A South East MEP has added her voice to a growing campaign against plans by Kent County Council to erect large vehicle parks along the local motorways in an ill-advised attempt to solve the problem of heavy lorry congestion in the area.
The council’s policy to ease the ongoing ‘Operation Stack’ in Kent has been heavily criticised by local communities, who have expressed serious concerns about the effect of the proposed lorry parks on the rural surroundings, given the potentially huge increase in noise, waste and air pollution.
Today, Caroline Lucas MEP warned that both the current levels of freight traffic in Operation Stack, and the proposed lorry parks, which would hold over 3000 vehicles, are unacceptable for the people of Kent. She said:
“Operation Stack has plagued Kent’s roads for long enough. Whenever the cross Channel transport packs up, local people must suffer long pile-ups of parked lorries and the frequent closure of the M20.
“But the lorry parks planned by Kent County Council are simply not the answer; they are unsustainable, unworkable and unsuitable for the surrounding area. The land earmarked for an off-motorway lorry park between Junction 10 and 11, for example, is green land with a rural community which would struggle to accommodate such a facility.
“Lorry parks would harm the countryside, promoting higher noise and light pollution, and if the worrying predictions about the number of lorries on UK roads increasing annually are to be believed, even a 3000-space lorry park may not be large enough.
Dr Lucas continued: “This is not a problem that Kent alone should have to deal with; it is a UK-wide issue that requires a national strategy.
“This pressing problem requires effective short term solutions, such as imposing full charging on all foreign lorries in line with EU law to reduce numbers. We need to ensure that the Eurotunnel’s maximum carriage capacity of HGVs is being utilised and that HGVs are fully inspected to EU standards.
“Furthermore, the ongoing expansion of the Port of Dover's Eastern Docks should be suspended, as this can only lead to even more vehicles moving through the Port, which itself has limited road capacity options.
"I urge Kent County Council to consider these solutions before ploughing ahead with their unpopular and unsustainable lorry parks."