Work has begun on yet another Kent lorry park as diggers arrived at Guston, near Dover to begin construction of another new post-Brexit lorry park.
Once complete, the site will have the ability to hold 1,200 lorries, should there be delays at the ports similar to those seen last month. Work is well underway at a similar facility in Sevington, Ashford, which will be able to hold up to 2,000 trucks.
Residents have mounted a plan to try to reverse government plans to turn fields into the clearance site for 1,200 lorries.
They claim it is a “clear abuse of power” over the lack of notice and consultation over the consequences of their plans. With less than two weeks to go before the end of an official 21-day engagement process, they staged a socially-distanced protest at the fields. They are demanding the government to “relocate to a safer site”.
One elderly resident complained the plans were hatched “behind closed doors” and only conveyed to residents on New Year’s Eve despite the devastation they will bring to their lives.
The villagers are concerned that the site will replace Manston Airport as the main holding bay for lorries in the event of cross-Channel delays. The 70-acre Dover White Cliffs site will carry out checks for the Port of Dover, while Sevington will monitor Eurotunnel checks.
The Government has reiterated the Dover White Cliffs site is to be used as a customs check facility only
A DfT spokesman said ‘Purchasing the White Cliffs site in Dover will allow the Government to set up an inland facility to undertake border controls with easy access to the Port, which does not itself have the space needed for extended checks. We do not expect to use this site for traffic management purposes. The development of this site, which will bring local jobs, will require further planning consent and residents will have further opportunity to express their views as part of that process.’
So the residents will have no say in the initial construction of the site but will have the ability to protest to any further planning consents. So not only will they have to suffer with this lorry park at the end of their gardens, but there is the threat of further expansion to come.
The DfT then said “The White Cliffs inland border facility proposals are planned for temporary use and are designed to ensure that there are no significant or long-term environmental effects.”
But none of the locals can see the site being restored to something suitable in 2025.
Commentators on social media have been quick to say that the country voted for Brexit and so this is how it has to be. Whilst the country did vote for Brexit, it did not vote for lorry parks to be constructed without any ability for planning consent to be challenged or appeals not to be heard.
Brexit has been coming for many years, yet the Government have made last minute decisions and then used its power to force planning consents through unchallenged.