£250m lorry park decision ‘rushed’, say MPs

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A House of Commons transport committee ‘Operation Stack’ report concludes that the decision to proceed with a £250million lorry park was “rushed”, and argues that the government’s decision was made hastily as a “reaction to the events of the summer of 2015 when Operation Stack was used longer than ever before”.

The report said that more needs to be done to show that a lorry park will deliver. The decision had “left behind some of the usual best practice when spending such large sums of money”.

The government has already set aside £250million to build the park near junction 11 of the M20, with the capacity to hold around 4,000 LGVs. The land required for this size is equivalent to 90 football pitches – it would only be rivalled by one other park in Europe for its size.

“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 per cent of the road freight entering or leaving the UK,” said Louise Ellman MP, chair of the committee. “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 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.”

The committee called on the government to outline the necessity of building the lorry park, including these elements:

  • 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, and
  • the long-term costs of operating, maintaining, renewing and, eventually, decommissioning the lorry park
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