Tory MP warns against Kent becoming ‘parking lot of England’

Tory MP warns against Kent becoming ‘parking lot of England’

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Government has been warned against turning Kent into the “parking lot of England”, over concerns about using a motorway as a holding area in the case of a no deal Brexit.

Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat criticised the proposal to use the M26 as a “lorry park”, and the Department for Transport and Highways England for not asking to hear the thoughts of those affected.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Tugendhat said: "We understand the contingencies for no-deal Brexit have to be made but this is not a workable solution."

Earlier this month, Highways England began preparations for the M26 to be used as a holding area for lorries if there is gridlock.


'Parking lot of England' 

Lorries parked up on M20

There is concern there could be delays at the nearby port of Dover if the UK withdraws from the EU without a deal.

A plan called Operation Brock will also see traffic able to park on the nearby M20.

Sections of the M20 are currently closed under Operation Stack when lorries are forced to queue because of disruption to rail or ferry services.

Mr Tugendhat, the MP for Tonbridge and Malling: "Why should it be the responsibility of the Garden of England to become the parking lot of England?

"Most HGVs don't start their journeys in our county so why not keep them at source as they do in France?"


'We doubt these measures will be needed'

Tory MP Tom Tugendhat speaking in the House of Commons

Transport minister Jesse Norman said he appreciated this was an issue "of great concern" but told MPs he doubted the measures would be needed.

He said: "This new approach, Operation Brock, has been designed to ensure that unlike the previous one the M20 will be kept open and traffic will continue to flow in both directions at times of cross channel disruption.

"Operation Brock consists of three phases involving in the first place a contraflow queuing system on the M20, holding areas at Manston Airport and if necessary also on the M26.

"This represents a very significant improvement on deployments of Operation Stack, when junctions were closed and traffic was diverted off the M20 onto local roads."

He added: "We doubt these contingency measures will be needed, but if they are, then we are doing the necessary planning.

"If we did have significant disruption at the border resulting in traffic disruption in Kent then let us be clear there is no panacea, there is no cure, but we want to ensure we can manage disruption while keeping Kent moving."