Brexit lorry park work at Manston airport site stood down

Works at the Manston site stood down Photo Swift Aerial Photography

The Manston airport site has been stood down from immediate readiness as a ‘No Deal Brexit’ lorry park.

Marshals were relieved of duty as from today (May 17) and clearance is now expected to take place.

Workers were told the news on Wednesday.

In January a special development order designating the Manston airport site for use as a lorry park to cope with possible post-Brexit jams at the Port of Dover came into effect.

The order ‘augmented’ the deal to use Manston as a short-term solution for Operation Stack which was first struck with site owners Stone Hill Park in August 2015 following a Summer of disruption due to French strikes and growing migrant camps in Calais.

The HGV trial at Manston Photo Frank Leppard

The aim was to park lorries up at the site and so reduce pressure on the M20. The government extended the deal in November 2017 to run until the end of 2019.

The new order extended the deal until December 31, 2020 with additions to allow work on the site to create a new access, add temporary hardstanding and modifications to the new entrance and create lining and signage.

Some £4.9million was earmarked to be spent on the work to increase capacity at the site to hold 6,000 – rather than the initial projection of 4,000 – lorries.

The order followed a trial run of less than 90 HGVs earlier this month from Manston to Dover as part of Kent County Council and the Department of Transport’s Brexit contingency plans.

HGV Brexit trial run Photo Kent Police RPU

The work was part of plans for Operation Brock – the updated version of lorry queuing system Operation Stack.

Operation Brock was scaled back last month with removal of the contraflow system. This followed the decision by European Union leaders to grant the UK a six-month ‘extension’ until October 31 on its departure from the EU, resulting in the standing down of no-deal operational planning by the government.

The Department for Transport said it is not pulling resources out of the no deal planning despite the halt to work and the Manston site could still be operational within hours if needed.