Kent

Manston Airport Operation Stack lorry park costs £5.5m

Operation Stack Image copyright PA
Image caption The lorry park is to prevent the need for Operation Stack

The government admits it has spent £5.5m keeping Manston Airport available as a potential lorry park when for Operation Stack is in force.

During Operation Stack the M20 in Kent is turned into an HGV park when cross-Channel services are disrupted.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said it was keeping Manston as "an option for holding lorries".

In December it was revealed the DfT had spent nearly £13m on a planned lorry park that was later dropped.

Operation Stack was implemented 32 times during the summer of 2015 when the Calais migrant crisis and French ferry worker strikes affected freight travel across the English Channel.

It led to the use of Manston Airport as an emergency lorry park, as a "viable short-term solution", the then transport secretary, Lord Ahmad said.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Part of the M20 is closed to hold lorries when Stack is in place

A DfT spokesperson said: "We recognise the disruption suffered by residents and businesses in Kent when Operation Stack was implemented in 2015 and we remain fully committed to a permanent solution.

"However, in the interim, we must develop a temporary measure to keep the M20 running in both directions and ensure any potential disruption is kept to a minimum."

He said Manston was the only site in the area with sufficient space and the government were keeping the former airport site as "an option for holding lorries in the event of Operation Stack".

A planned park at Stanford, near Folkestone, for up to 3,600 lorries was dropped last year, with the DfT saying a new scheme would be developed.

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