The government is seeking to solve freight congestion from the Dover border after opening a consultation on Operation Stack today.
Operation Stack is initiated when the UK border is severely affected by weather, industrial action or delays and can take a big toll on fresh and frozen produce arriving from the continent. In 2015, French industrial action by ferry workers saw police implement the emergency measure for a record 30 days.
Currently, the operation requires lorries to be lined up and parked along the M20 while they wait for the channel to clear.
The move comes ahead of concerns about greater border delays after Britain leaves the EU in March 2019. Without any customs deal, there are fears increased inspection times could create huge tailbacks in France and England.
Research suggests that an increased inspection time of just 2 minutes could create 20-mile long tailbacks on British roads.
Highways England project director John Kerner said: “The disruption that people in Kent experienced in the summer of 2015 underlined the need for improvements to how traffic is managed when services across the English Channel are interrupted.
“Around 11,500 lorries use the Kent corridor to access cross-Channel travel services every day. In 2016, the port of Dover and Eurotunnel handled a record number of lorries and this is expected to double over the next decade.
“We now have an opportunity to take a completely fresh look at what a permanent solution to Operation Stack could be, and understanding people’s views will be vital in making sure we can identify the most appropriate outcome. I encourage anyone with an interest to get involved.”
In November last year plans for a £250million lorry park off the M20 were scrapped by the government after a judicial review, but they are now likely to be part of the search for a long term solution.
The consulting exercise starts today and runs until 22 July 2018, with drop in sessions being held across Kent.