As the UK government battles congestion at the ports of Dover and Folkestone, a decision by the government to rent space at Manston Airfield in the county of Kent for 3 million pounds is coming under fire. The plan is part of “Operation Stack,” which would line up trucks waiting to enter the port in a lot along the M20 motorway.
Proposals to make the parking lot operational were already rejected back in November 2017. Yet, as the Road Haulage Association eventually discovered, the UK government pushed through anyway. The irony is not lost on RHA’s chief executive, Richard Burnett. “Manston Airport was only supposed to be a short-term contingency following the mayhem we saw on the M20 during the summer of 2015, but two and a half years later the taxpayer is still footing the bill for a facility that’s never been used.”
According to Burnett, the UK government has spent 6 million pounds to rent a facility that has never been used. The money came from taxpayers, RHA claimed. “It’s a completely unsuitable location as the road network in that part of Kent is not geared up to accommodating hundreds of HGVs, yet the Government is spending [12,000 UK pounds] a day to keep it available when it should be investing in proper parking facilities,” Burnett said.
Failing to find solutions to the congestion problem still existing in the port might lead to a slow down in business, FTA’s Head of UK Policy, Christopher Snelling, said. “The Port of Dover is the UK’s closest connection to continental Europe and provides a vital trading link, not just for the south of England, but for the UK as a whole. HGVs do not have an alternative route to use, so such a proposed charge is simply a tax on business and would ultimately hurt British trading relationships, as well as pushing up prices for goods and services.
“While the price of renting Manston Airport might appear high, the cost of failing to prepare for a possible closure of the Port of Dover would be far greater for the local community, and business as a whole across the country,” Snelling added.
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