Staff from the Environment Agency and Kent County Council are on site at Manston airport after a sinkhole opened up on the runway (UPDATE: RSP boss Tony Freudmann says the hole is on the adjacent taxi runway).
The hole, which is understood to be around one metre wide and 10m deep, opened on Boxing Day and has resulted in the taping off of around 50 lorry spaces.
The site has been in use as a lorry park and had some 3,800 HGVs parked up after the French border was closed to UK travellers just before Christmas. The border reopened on December 23 but Manston was needed as a holding site for the backlog of thousands of trucks that had built up.
It is also being used for a pop up site to administer lateral flow covid tests to hauliers.
The lorry parking site is operated by the Department for Transport (DfT) and managed by former landowner Stone Hill Park.
A spokesperson for the DfT confirmed the sinkhole was on the runway, adding: “Once we became aware of the issue at Manston we acted quickly to ensure the specific area was safely cordoned off, allowing the rest of the airfield to remain in use.”
A special development order allows use of the Manston site as part of the Kent-wide Operation Fennel to hold up to 4,000 HGVs to help cope with possible post EU exit jams at the Port of Dover.
The deal with the Department of Transport for the site to continue to be designated as a ‘EU exit’ lorry park has been extended until the end of June 2021. After this it is expected that full custom controls will be in effect by July, negating the need for further use of the site.
The site is owned by RiverOak Strategic Partners. Tony Freudmann, from RSP, said: “We are awaiting a full report. The DfT is under obligation to fully reinstate the site at the end of their occupation in June.”