Highways England will spend £25m on the interim plan © PA Archive/PA Images
Highways England will spend £25m on the interim plan © PA Archive/PA Images

Dover motorway to become 'giant temporary lorry park'

The government has proposed turning the M20 into a giant lorry park as a “temporary solution” to trade border congestion caused by a no-deal Brexit.

An impact assessment by Dover District Council, released under freedom of information law, reveals that a 13-mile coast-bound stretch of the motorway will be “earmarked” to be turned into a 2,000-vehicle lorry park.

It said the plan “needs to be delivered” before changes to customs arrangements in March 2019, but the start date for road works has not been announced. “There does not appear to be a Plan B,” the report said.

Called Operation Brock, the park is described as an “interim plan”. Nevertheless, the report predicts it will be “many years” before a permanent solution is found, and says that Highways England will spend £25m on the operation.

The current transport infrastructure, it added, is “insufficient to respond to changing border arrangements”, with the number of HGVs passing through expected to increase by 43% by 2030, to 3.8m using Dover each year.

The document also predicts that Border Inspection Posts (BIP), required for the inspection of food imports and exports, would need to be installed at Dover port and the Channel Tunnel. 

Currently, foods which require this level of scrutiny, such as products of animal origin (POAO), can only pass through Dover or the Channel Tunnel if they have already been inspected on the continent and are therefore in free circulation. 

POAO “may need to be stopped and examined and potentially sampled and detained” once Britain has left the EU, but “the infrastructure to do this is not currently in place,” the report said. 

Last month, a London School of Economics report found that every seven extra minutes of port check times would add 10 hours to transportation times, equating to at least an extra £111-per-lorry for labour costs.

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