Delays experienced by motorists heading for the Port of Dover this weekend, highlight the need to look at the ‘bigger picture’ to provide facilities for all – says the FTA today.
Drivers’ queued for up to 14 hours on Kent’s roads over the past few days as they attempted to clear additional French security checks at the Port and board ferries bound for France.
Responding to the situation the Freight Transport Association has said that now is the ideal opportunity to consider the feasibility of the proposed lorry area near Stanford being made available for tourist traffic if needed in order to keep the M20 moving.
FTA Head of Policy South East England – Natalie Chapman said: “We do need to solve the root causes of congestion and delays at the Port. Given the recent terrorist attack in Nice, FTA fully understands the need for heightened security and additional checks, but it is unforgiveable that the French border force was so under-resourced.
“Dover is vital to the UK economy with up to £120 billion worth of trade going through the Port every year. There must be better processes put in place at the Port with extra personnel drafted in at peak times – otherwise there is a risk that Operation Stack may be introduced and we cannot have a repeat performance of last year.”
Highways England is due to be consulting on the details for the design and operation of the new site adjacent to the M20 to alleviate Operation Stack for lorry drivers in the coming weeks.
Ms Chapman continued: “FTA believes that now is a good time to look at all possible scenarios and offers an opportunity to consider the feasibility of the site being made available for tourist traffic if we had a similar situation in the future.”
The main objectives of the proposed lorry area has to be to keep the M20 running and Kent open for business. The Stanford site would provide basic welfare facilities for professional drivers, but if this can be translated to tourist traffic in a workable way, it would help meet those objectives too.
Chapman concluded: “The site at Stanford will accommodate up to 3,600 lorries which is stages 1 and 2 of Operation Stack, but it could hold many more cars. However, we would need to ensure that tourist and freight traffic are separated. The peak days for tourist and freight traffic are different – with tourists heading to the continent across weekends and lorries leaving the UK mid-week.”
Kent Police has warned that disruption could last for weeks, as the summer getaway continues.