Operation Stack, Kent
Operation Stack is the generic term given to the procedure used by Kent Police and Kent County Council to manage HGV traffic in accessing the Port of Dover or Channel Tunnel when volumes of freight traffic exceed the port/tunnel’s capacity. Sections of the M20 are used to park (stack) HGVs, releasing them as cross-channel capacity becomes available. Stacking is done in phases depending on the severity but could result in the M20 being closed to allow for parking together with local roads and areas. Previously Operation Stack has been in place for a number of times within short time scale and lasting up to 25 days which impacted on local resident’s perceptions, local businesses, the environment and Kent’s image. In addition there was little in place for regular overnight stays for HGVs.
We were commissioned by Kent County Council to consider the economic impacts of changing the way Operation Stack was managed. SYSTRA undertook a study to quantify the existing issues, taking into account future changes based on three scenarios of change – do nothing, do minimum and do something. The future scenarios involved the use of Quick Moveable Barriers to allow the M20 to continue to operate under a reduced capacity contra-flow arrangement in the short to medium term, with a view to a longer term solution, the preferred option being an emergency lorry park. Base data was collected on Stack and current lorry parking provisions, and predictions about future needs and impacts of stack were developed through consolidating a number of national and locally developed forecasts. This study formed the basis for developing a formal business case for a lorry park.