Monday, December 14, 2015

Road Haulage Lobby Calls for Action in France as Freight Association Praises Operation Stack Action

Calais Migrant Attacks on Trucks Need Solutions as Promised
Shipping News Feature
UK – IRELAND – FRANCE – In a week when the Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) held a meeting with Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe to emphasise the continuing threat from migrants boarding trucks travelling to the UK, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has welcomed the news that the newly proposed lorry park in Kent will ease the disruption caused by Operation Stack and should provide much needed facilities for truck drivers and hopefully end road chaos for residents and businesses.

With ever more Irish trucks being assaulted and their trucks boarded in an attempt to cross the Channel Verona Murphy, President of the Irish Road Haulage Association, lamented the seemingly unchanging problems despite promises from French authorities saying:

"I'm calling on the minister to negotiate with his political counterparts in the UK. They have been speaking with the UK Border Force for the past three months, and there has been no progress that we can see. If anything the situation has deteriorated given that they are seizing Irish trucks."

Meanwhile in a move many see as treating a symptom rather than a disease, thus ignoring inclement weather, Highways England has launched a consultation on two sites near junction 11 of the M20 at Stanford which might be used as an emergency facility when there are delays at the Port of Dover or the Eurotunnel terminal. The chosen site may also have the additional benefit of a permanent lorry park as well as accommodating the Dover TAP – the system which avoids trucks queueing through the town when the Port of Dover is full.

The Chancellor announced £250 million funding for a solution to Operation Stack in his Autumn Statement. Highways England’s proposal would create parking for at least 3,600 trucks and the consultation continues until 25 January and is viewable here. The M20 was closed for 28 days this summer during disruptions to Channel crossings, causing chaos on Kent’s roads and leaving truck drivers stranded on the motorway for hours with no facilities. Natalie Chapman, FTA’s Head of Policy for London and the South East commented:

“Kent desperately needs overnight facilities for lorry drivers to reduce the problem of trucks parking in villages and residential areas. We would urge Highways England to act quickly and consider providing a day-to-day facility for drivers that can also be used in emergencies instead of the Dover TAP and Operation Stack.

“Being stuck on the motorway in a slow-moving queue plays havoc with drivers’ hours and rest breaks so a dedicated waiting area is vital, but it’s also important that the lorries can be moved in and out of the lorry park to access the port and Eurotunnel when spaces are available so that ferries, and trains, are filled to capacity.”