The site in Kent was intended to relieve congestion caused by Operation Stack.

Plans for a lorry park beside the M20 motorway in Kent have been shelved after the government announced that it would no longer defend a judicial review of the scheme.

The government first mooted the 3,600-space site near Stanford, in Kent, to relieve the disruption caused by Operation Stack, which currently involves trucks queuing along the motorway when there is disruption to cross-channel services.

A judicial review of the proposed site was due next month, but the government has now decided to withdraw the plans. A Department for Transport (DfT) statement said: ‘Work has continued to deliver the lorry park as quickly as possible while also meeting environmental obligations. However, this has not been possible.’

Roads Minister Jess Norman said the government was ‘fully committed to a permanent solution’, which could yet involve a lorry park.

‘We know how seriously the lives of Kent residents and the prospects of businesses were affected when Operation Stack was implemented in 2015,’ he said. ‘However, we need to go through the proper procedures to ensure our plans, which include a lorry park, best fit the needs of Kent and the freight industry.

‘In the meantime we are developing an interim measure to keep the M20 open to traffic in both directions if Operation Stack is implemented – ensuring disruption is kept to a minimum.’

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Potential interim plans could include the use of moveable barriers to store lorries in the central reservation, while the DfT is extending an agreement with Manston airfield, which could be used for lorry storage if there is severe disruption to cross-channel services.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA), which represents truck drivers and operators, described the withdrawal of the plans as a ‘red-tape debacle’ and a ‘complete disaster’, but that the organisation was committed to finding a ‘workable solution’.

‘This facility is of massive importance to hauliers and the people of Kent,’ said RHA chief executive Richard Burnett. ‘Two years ago we saw the misery of operators who, for many days, were caught up in the gridlock of Operation Stack. Even the most basic requirements for HGV drivers such as toilet facilities and drinking water were non-existent. And for the people and economy of Kent, the cost was enormous.

‘As Brexit approaches we are pushing hard for free-flowing customs border controls. If we cannot achieve the right Brexit deal, we could be looking at customs border queues which could potentially cause misery for hauliers and the residents and businesses of Kent. Can you imagine Operation Stack becoming a daily way of life?’