Lorry park at Manston airport site to be suspended

Manston at capacity in December Photo Frank Leppard

Services for for EU-bound HGVs at the Manston Airport site are being suspended.

From Sunday, March 21 freight heading for the Port of Dover will no longer be directed to attend the Department for Transport site at the airfield and it will no longer offer Covid-19 tests or customs checks for hauliers. This can be reactivated at short notice if necessary.

Manston lorry park Photo Frank Leppard

All HGVs will instead access the Operation Brock traffic management system between Junctions 8 and 9 on the M20 coastbound carriageway, with one lane being used for Eurotunnel and the other for the Port of Dover. Any HGVs that attempt to take an alternative route outside of Brock risk enforcement action being taken against them.

HGV drivers who require a Covid-19 test before leaving the UK are strongly encouraged to take one before entering Kent in order to avoid delays. Any that arrive without one will now be directed to a single facility at Sevington, near Ashford.

Assistant Chief Constable Claire Nix of Kent Police, who is also the Chair of the Kent Resilience Forum, said: “Thanks to the hard work of all partners and those EU-bound motorists who have followed the requirements, there have been no significant traffic issues on Kent’s roads since the end of the EU transition period.

“The suspension of services at the former Manston Airport site is the first major step in what we all hope will be an eventual return to business as usual, as it means HGV traffic bound for the Port of Dover will now be able to take a more direct route along the M20 with easier access to the full range of services that will be provided at the Sevington Inland Border Facility.

“It is however important to note that Manston can be stood up again at short notice if necessary, and that the site was only ever planned to be used as a holding area for lorries in extreme circumstances – as was the case following the closure of the French border last December.

“The recent agreement between the UK and French governments that HGV drivers who spend less than 48 hours in the country no longer need a negative Covid-19 test result before entering France gave partners the opportunity to review the traffic management plan and agree that the suspension of services at Manston is a step in the right direction.

“I would like to reassure residents that while these changes may result in some local traffic disruption in the short term, we in the Kent Resilience Forum will continue to closely monitor freight volumes and remain committed to keeping Kent moving. I would also like to thank everyone for their patience as the country continues to adjust following the end of the EU transition period.”

A contract to use part of the Manston site as a lorry park was extended until the end of June 2021 in a deal made between landowners RiverOak Strategic Partners, former landowners but lorry site operators Stone Hill Park and the Department of Transport.

A special development order allows use of the site to hold up to 4,000 HGVs to help cope with possible post EU exit jams at the Port of Dover.

The order ‘augmented’ the deal to use Manston as a short-term solution for Operation Stack which was first struck with  Stone Hill Park in August 2015.

Photo Louis Mclaren

The site came into use earlier than the planned January 1 date after the French government closed the border to UK travellers and accompanied freight going into the country shorty before Christmas over fears of the spreading ‘Kent’ variant of covid.

The move led to the site being parked up to capacity with a large backlog of HGVs on county roads. A sustained effort was launched to make sure drivers had access to food and facilities.

Photo Frank Leppard

Transport Minister Rachel Maclean said:Thanks to the efforts of the haulage industry and partners, traffic continues to run smoothly through Kent, which is fantastic to see.

“The changes to the French protocol have meant that there’s a reduction in the number of hauliers who require testing, and as a result, we can reduce outbound haulier testing in Kent – helping minimise disruption to local residents.

Manston can be reactivated at short notice if any circumstances change, but I know the local community, which has worked so collaboratively with us during this time, will be pleased to see another step being taken towards the normal running of Kent’s roads.”

MP apologises over Manston lorry park payments gaff


  1. This was Always the wrong place for the testing site anyhow, shows the government’s short sighted narrow thought process, or am I wrong and it served the purpose Gale and Makinley not to forget Shapps wanted which was to spend 8 million pound on the use of this site for barely 3 months ( I know right ) of tax payers money to help riveroak out as they didn’t have any real money any how, so when this was pointed out they suddenly decided not to draw more interest in this and back out rather quick. This was following gales, lies about this when originally questioned. Stinks doesn’t it, which other MPs were involved from this very dodgy government, not forgetting some Cllrs?

  2. What you jokers who comment the relentless shit between yourselves squabbling like kids miss is that the operation at Manston has been a big employer for the are in a very hard time. And now at short notice a few hundred people will be without work again and on the dole.
    I personally hope the airport opens again and makes a lot of noise and is able to employ many many local people in an area that has been deprived for years, run by an incompetent council who pay themselves disgusting amounts of money to do jack shit in a town where nothing moves fast or gets done.
    Lock them all up.
    Open the airport.
    Give us some god damn jobs in Thanet.

    • Big employer, and hot bed for employees shagging and doing weed/coke on the clock going off a pal who’s been working up there. Nevermind the rightguard bods fighting with each other too, as shown in national press.

  3. What a fantastic time it’s been, 1000’s and 1000’s of Lorrie’s coming and going, hardly any traffic problems, major success for us all and now hopefully we can look forward to work starting to get our great airport back….. great times lay ahead 👍

      • It failed at least four times Phyllis! But that was with passenger aircraft, no passengers aircraft are planned to use Manston! Instead it will be largely dirty old passenger aircraft converted to cargo only, and if anyone thinks they will get a job at Manston they are deluded, unless they know how to strip down a jet engine!

        The reason Manston is no longer needed as a lorry park is probably due to the extreme lack of trucks going to France! According to the I newspaper dated 8th February quoting the Road Haulage Association, exports are down by 68%, and many are returning to France empty! If anyone wants a job then get trained as a Customs Agent, filling in all the Forms needed now to export from the UK! This is why many exporters are giving up, it takes so long to complete these forms that their truck is sitting idle at £50.00 an hour!

      • Hasn’t cost you or I or any other person in Thanet a £100m, bring it on, let’s have another go 👍

    • Take it you havent been driving around the area much Big Nose !

      Have seen lorrys reversing out all sort of side roads around manston after getting lost. Went round the jentex corner going to ramsgate to be met on my side of the road by a lorry. He was driving on the wrong side of the road !.
      If you go down to sevenscore roundabout at certain times of the day you cant turn left for ramsgate as the lorrys are all the way between sevenscore and roundabout at the top of cliffsend. A lot of lorrys dont give way to you when you are coming from Canterbury at the monkton roundabout, they pull out in front of you.

      If anything this just shows that the thousands of lorry and aviation tanker movements per day at an airport just wouldnt work.

      It’s been get worst week on week.

      • Yes of course I drive around here, I live here Lol! I’ve seen a few miss happs, no one’s died, no major damage has been done, when the lorry in Manston took the wrong turn, people weren’t screaming for blood, the postman didn’t turn a blind eye, we got on with it and sorted it out. Let’s have this airport up and running, it’ll be great for our local economy.

  4. If your house faced the prospect of a ruddy great cargo boiler coming in overheas at 350 feet every 15 minutes you would be equally as concerned I’m quite sure.

    That said, Kent roads would be as bad as they are currently if RSP have their way. Where and how do folk suppose a cargo plane every 15 mins unloads to? Yep. Lorries. Thousands of em in the case of Manston.

    Cue next RSP or Roger Gale article about electric barges/unicorns/non existent training centre/trees/made up jobs numbers.

  5. So £8.5million sneakily paid to RiverOak but apparently this was really “compensation” for delaying their “plans” for developing an airport. Never mind the DCO was about to be quashed and TDC people in the know say they were miles away from satisfying the conditions to start doing anything. Makes you wonder what checks Shapps did before writing the cheque!

  6. Why do we have so many blank sighted, whinging people here in the Isle of Thanet. Let’s get the Airport built and up and running and making jobs for thousands of people. There has always been an Airport at Manston since the Second World War, people have brought houses in the area knowing that there was an Airport here, now the Airport has a chance of revival all the Whingers are coming out of the woodwork.. Logically thinking what an ideal placement for an Airport with the Approach/Departure route straight out to sea.
    Looking forward to seeing Aircraft landing and taking off once again from this great Airport, and bringing money into Kent.
    Good Luck River Oak.

    • Straight out to sea over Ramsgate.

      If RSP get permission for their noisy polluting airport, it won’t be because of luck.

    • One of the places you might logically put an airport, especially a cargo hub, is somewhere where it will attract customers.
      Just who would use a re-opened Manston?
      If you currently fly freight into the UK, it will go in to existing cargo hubs at places such as East Midlands Airport or Heathrow, places which are either located at logistics hubs (EMA) or inter connectivity (Heathrow).
      What has Manston got going for it?
      It’s in the bottom right hand corner of the UK. It has poor road connection with the rest of the UK, and no rail connection. And even if there were good connections, why, if you were into air freight, would you load your cargo onto an aircraft, fly it to Manston, off-road it onto trucks (or electric barges), transport it to a (central) hub and hence to its destination, when you could simply leave your cargo on the aircraft for 20 minutes longer and sent it direct to EMA, LHR or whatever?
      It not as if RSP could offer seriously cheap charges to entice carriers. To service a loan of £350M, Manston would be crippling expensive. But dont just take my word for it: as Louise Congdon of York Aviation.

    • Why do we have so many pillocks like you in Thanet Jabbac? If Manston reopened for cargo planes only (no passenger planes are planned) it will destroy Ramsgate, especially the Harbour, with low flying aircraft at just 300 meters high, flying over it two or more an hour! Its gets worse, as the planes descend they will fly close to schools, businesses, and devalue property! They will put many hundreds of people out of work, because no one would want to sit out having a meal, or staying in a hotel with all this noise/air pollution taking place! If you can hear a plane when its five miles high, think what it would sound like when its just a couple of hundred meters high! Again, Pillock!

  7. Let’s hope some of the millions of pounds made can be used to fix the potholes around Manston and clean the filth left by the lorry drivers in the verges! I for one won’t miss being cut up by lorries turning right from the left lane at roundabouts. This can’t have been good for the air quality in Thanet either!

    • How does it prove Manston will be a successful freight airport? The lorries are all diverted from either ferry crossings or the Channel tunnel. Those sea crossings are what the market has chosen, not air freight.

    • Lyn, it really doesn’t. All it proves is it can be used as a car park. Road freight is a completely different market than air freight. Air freight goes to three main hubs in the uk. Heathrow, Stansted, Manchester, East Midlands. The reason for this is their position to the m25, m1, the m6 and the m62/65 network which branches off and covers the large majority of the country. It isn’t financially viable for haulage firms to service an extra 120 mile round trip to join the m25 from Thanet.

      Also, you seem to be unaware of the fall in ALL freight/uk trade this year…One reason for why Manston is being stood down. Road freight is down massively, air freight, down but not as much. Here are figures. You can check these with leading industry publications and personalities on their social media where I got them from.

      Live animal exports fell 73% from £22 million to £6 million

      Meat exports fell 59% from £130 million to £53 million

      Dairy exports fell 50% from £113 million to £57 million

      Fish & shellfish exports to EU fell by 83% compared to January 2020 from £92 million to £16 million.

      Animal feed exports fell 60% compared to January 2020 from £57 million to £23 million.

      By sector, largest fall in EU exports is (unsurprisingly) for Food & Live Animals. But big declines across the board

      Food & Live Animals: – 54%
      Beverages & tobacco: -40%
      Crude materials: -23%
      Fuels: -53%
      Chemicals: -41%
      Material man.: -29%
      Machinery: -34%
      Miscellaneous man: -37%

  8. All those whinging about the lorries would see these lorries and more if the giant cargo hub opens. Luckily the DCO has been quashed and Grant Shapps is rethinking his terrible homework.

    For accuracy, it has only been an airport for a short time and always repeatedly bust, prior to commercial operations it was a military airfield and quickly abandoned when the RAF and USAF had no strategic need for it.

    It employed less than 150 when it last went bust. The 30,000 jobs claim is a lie. The inspectors confirmed opening it would kill more jobs than it creates. Anyone who supports the airport is more likely supporting job loss not job creation.

  9. Andrew

    How dare you post such a common sense post !

    Agree 100% with you.

    Its bizarre how the pro manston supporters cant see the facts.

    • As an anti Manston supporter, I’d be really grateful if you gave us some facts, as a change from “We don’t no houses”, “What about the Aquifer”, “where will the 1000s of cars go”, “think about the 100000 jobs” etc.
      Yes please, Mr B Nose, give us some facts!

  10. Ironic, pro’s ask for fact’s from anti’s, anti’s ask for fact’s from pro’s, we all continue to bicker on media platforms, we call each other names, is it real hatred for each other? it’s certainly not a proper debate, because both sides soon descend into name calling, nothing is achieved by it, you might go to bed thinking “I got him on that one” I might go to bed thinking of a good come back to post tomorrow……all that is achieved is someone has created a good platform to sell advertising space…I want an airport, you don’t, I respect your opinion, we’re neighbour’s, let’s act like it x

    • Pro Airport tend to be light on facts, but heavy on personal insults;
      Those opposing the airport tend to quote loads of facts (there are plenty to choose from) and in consequence have no need to resort to ad hominem remarks.

  11. Rather have thirty airport jobs than 30000 people move from London with their cars and rubbish and extended position.

    • How many more times!!!
      The houses, with their occupants and cars (whether from London or not) we get anyway. (Quite a few are being built at Cliffsend, St Nicholas, Birchington …)
      We don’t want a polluting airport in addition to all these houses.

    • Fred, the houses are getting built either way. Suck it up. If they don’t go on the airport land, they go on the fields around quex/shottendane etc.

  12. “The suspension of services at the former Manston Airport site is the first major step in what we all hope will be an eventual return to business as usual”

    Live animal exports fell 73% from £22 million to £6 million

    Meat exports fell 59% from £130 million to £53 million

    Dairy exports fell 50% from £113 million to £57 million

    Fish & shellfish exports to EU fell by 83% compared to January 2020 from £92 million to £16 million.

    Animal feed exports fell 60% compared to January 2020 from £57 million to £23 million.

    By sector, largest fall in EU exports is (unsurprisingly) for Food & Live Animals. But big declines across the board

    Food & Live Animals: – 54%
    Beverages & tobacco: -40%
    Crude materials: -23%
    Fuels: -53%
    Chemicals: -41%
    Material man.: -29%
    Machinery: -34%
    Miscellaneous man: -37%

    Biz as usual, my backside.

  13. Two points that strike me;

    1. All this talk of dirty polluting cargo aircraft ignores the fact that firstly these aircraft are often built as cargo from new. Secondly, they are often the same types that airlines use for passengers. Aircraft noise and pollution levels are much reduced.

    2. Those who are concerned about large numbers of lorries driving to the airport are apparently quite happy about the same lorries driving through Ramsgate.

    • “Those who are concerned about large numbers of lorries driving to the airport are apparently quite happy about the same lorries driving through Ramsgate.”

      Ramsgate has some 3-7k lorries a day going through it, does it?

        • Are you not aware of freight levels going through dover, via manston daily Mr X? Hence the need for all the farage garages, including Manston? David, for some reason thinks the same number go through Ramsgate every day…

          • Yes fully aware of the amount of lorries going through ramsgate.

            Its abit misleading if by the lorries going to manston someone is saying that’s ramsgate !.

            But than again I dont spend much time in ramsgate but if between 3k and 7k lorries were in ramsgate every day the travel news would be fun !

    • “Much reduced” from utterly utterly appalling to merely appalling isn’t much good, is it? RSP’s own figures show that Ramsgate would be subjected to noise levels worse than Heathrow, especially at night.
      The most serious pollution from jet engines are CO2 and oxides of nitrogen. You won’t get rid of either whilst you burn hydrocarbon fuels, and you won’t get rid of the latter even if you burn hydrogen in a jet engine.
      I don’t understand your comment about lorries in Ramsgate? With or without an airport, lorries wouldn’t be driving through Ramsgate (unless Tony Freudmann’s “electric barge” scheme took off)

    • “Much reduced” is no comfort if it’s changed from utterly utterly appalling to just appalling.
      According to RSP’s own figures, Ramsgate will be subjected to more noise than Heathrow, day and (especially) night.
      The most dangerous pollution from jet engines is CO2 and oxides of nitrogen. You’ll never get rid of either if you burn hydrocarbon fuels, and you’ll still produce oxides of nitrogen if you burn hydrogen.
      I don’t understand the comment about lorries driving through Ramsgate.

    • I walk through the centre of Ramsgate several times a week and I have hardly ever seen a lorry there, apart from those going to a building site in the town.

      Wouldn’t lorries from or to Manston be using the tunnel?

  14. My prediction in the first comment was spot on (even if I’m responsible for a couple of them!).

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