Plans for a £250m lorry park off the M20 – pitched by the Government as an alternative to Operation Stack – have been dropped.
Former Chancellor George Osborne unveiled the proposal for Stamford West, Kent, during 2015's Autumn Statement after huge disruption that summer due to industrial action by French ferry workers and migrant activity in Calais, which caused delays at the Port of Dover.
It meant that Operation Stack – a police initiative which essentially creates 3,000 parking spaces for trucks on the motorway – was deployed for more than a month.
But the lorry park proposal was not without controversy, having proved unpopular with nearby residents, and in October last year was subjected to a judicial review.
Now the Department for Transport (DfT) has told the High Court that it will no longer be defending the plan, and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has confirmed that the Government will go back to the drawing board for an alternative solution.
He said: "My department and Highways England have, since being judicially reviewed, tried to find a solution so that the lorry park could be delivered as quickly as possible to mitigate the impacts of Operation Stack, whilst also meeting our environmental obligations. However, it has not proven possible to do so.
"But I can announce today that we are immediately starting the process to promote a lorry park through the normal planning process, including a full environmental impact assessment, as a potential permanent solution to Operation Stack."
Mr Grayling added that the "scope, scale and location" of the potential solutions will have to be reassessed, with the Prime Minister having triggered Article 50 since the original lorry park was put forward.
Last month Mr Grayling suggested the M20 could become a semi-permanent lorry park if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal.
Highways England will run a public consultation on an alternative early next year with a view to submitting a planning application in 2019, and an interim solution by March of that year.
In the meantime, Manston Airfield will continue to be usable for lorry drivers during severe cross-Channel disruption.
Roads Minister Jesse Norman added: "We know how seriously the lives of Kent residents and the prospects of businesses were affected when Operation Stack was implemented in 2015 and we remain fully committed to a permanent solution."Let's