The Department for Transport is today updating the house on our work to improve on the current Operation Stack arrangements and ensure that traffic can keep flowing on the M20 even in the event of serious disruption to cross-channel transport.
At the same time, we are announcing a package of measures to tackle the blight of fly-parking across the south-east and other parts of the country, including plans to increase overnight lorry parking capacity which could potentially add an additional 1,500 spaces.
Further to the Secretary of State’s statement of 15 November 2017, Highways England will soon be starting the consultation process on a permanent solution for holding lorries in the event of cross-channel disruption, with a full public information exercise launching in June. The consultation will consider the broad solutions rather than specific sites. It will also seek views on the potential use of any future lorry park or parks for “business as usual” overnight lorry parking; while remaining sensitive to the Government’s desire not to deter any planned private investment.
In his November announcement, the Secretary of State also asked Highways England to develop an improved interim arrangement for holding lorries on the M20, while allowing traffic to continue to flow in both directions and keeping junctions open. The Department has now agreed with Highways England that this arrangement should take the form of a contraflow system which would see lorries for the port of Dover and Eurotunnel held on the coast-bound carriageway between junctions 8 and 9 of the M20, while other traffic will use a contraflow to continue their journey on the other side of the motorway. Highways England is starting the preparatory works for the scheme now and it will be available from early 2019.
As well as improving the contingency arrangements as to lorry parking, the Government are also focused on improving the situation for “business as usual” lorry parking. We have published the results of an in-depth survey carried out on the national picture of overnight lorry parking in England.
The detailed information in the report will help local planning authorities to understand the nature of the issue better, at both a regional and local level. However, it is important to note that developers are already responding to what is currently a mismatch between supply and demand. There are planning applications in the pipeline which it is estimated would, if delivered, equate to over 1,000 additional spaces across the country.
Given the evident need for further parking spaces, the Government will be taking three steps on their side:
First, Highways England has begun to analyse its landholdings in order to identify sites with the potential to be developed into lorry parks. Initial work suggests that this might facilitate a total of around 1,500 additional parking spaces nationwide. Detailed feasibility work will be undertaken in the next six months.
More generally, Highways England’s intend in future to give increased priority to the provision of lorry parking across the strategic road network. In its initial report for the second road investment strategy period (2020-2025) Highways England proposes funding to support the provision of better roadside facilities, which would include lorry parking. The department has consulted on this proposal and is carefully considering the responses received.
Secondly, I have written with the Minister for Housing, my hon. Friend the Member for Esher and Walton (Dominic Raab), who has responsibility for planning to local planning authorities to draw their attention to the survey results, which show a strategic national need for more lorry parking and highlight shortages in specific areas.
In addition, I am asking Highways England to develop its existing role as a statutory consultee on all proposed developments that are on or that directly affect the strategic road network. In future, Highways England will seek to use its unique network-wide perspective to assist local authorities in actively identifying areas of lorry parking need and potential solutions, including in the context of specific planning applications where these might help alleviate the situation.
Thirdly, the Department will consider further steps to make it easier for local authorities to take enforcement action against hauliers who park inappropriately. In Kent the trial on a stretch of the A20 of innovative enforcement approaches has had considerable success in its first six months of operation, with a significant fall in the number of vehicles parked overnight, and increased use of commercial parking facilities in the area, especially at weekends. Subject to the findings of this 18-month trial, we will be looking to promote the wider application of such measures elsewhere.