Up to 10,000 trucks pass through the Port of Dover every day. Line them all up and you get 180 kilometres of lorries. Enough to queue all the way up the M20 and round the M25. This grim picture is every motorist's idea of hell. And that's before you take the Channel Tunnel, which is the same again.
This is why we've got to keep trade flowing freely across the border post-Brexit. That means building resilient roads – dualling the A2 all the way to Dover and opening up more lorry parking facilities.
Whether we were leaving Europe or not, it's investment we desperately need anyway. This past Bank Holiday weekend, we had queues of lorries stretching back along the A20 to the Roundhill Tunnels. We're a victim of our own success. Dover is still the best and most popular way of getting to Europe for tourists and truckers. And it's going to get busier.
Over the next 10 years a huge £6 billion is being spent on the Lower Thames Crossing. To take pressure off Dartford, two three-lane tunnels are being dug under the Thames to link the M25 near North Ockendon, Essex, with the A2 near Shorne, Kent.
In order for this scheme to be a success it is vital the A2 is dualled. The previous Labour government axed plans for this essential infrastructure – but we've been working relentlessly to get the scheme back on the table. The new Thames Crossing opens in 2027. By 2030, freight traffic at Dover is set to have risen 40%. A single carriageway is simply inadequate.
The Port of Dover say that if the A2 was fully dualled, a second 'Dover TAP' scheme could be used on this route. Like the current A20 TAP, it would involve queueing lorries in the left-hand lane when there are delays at the port. They say this would cost less than the £250 million quoted for the axed Stanford lorry park plan.
Yet this alone is not enough. I'm deeply concerned that a new A2 Dover TAP – along with the proposed Operation Brock 'contraflow' on the M20 – would turn the roads to Dover into one long rolling lorry park. Our town would be cut off from the rest of Kent. And everyone knows what a battle it was to sort out the A20 TAP scheme.
That's why it's just common sense to build more lorry parking facilities, like at the Stop 24 services off junction 11 on the M20. Brenley Corner on the A2 is another option. And we need a wider network of lorry parks up and down the country.
Combined, Dover and Eurotunnel handle 30% of the UK's trade in goods – around £210 billion. So this isn't just a local issue. This is a national priority. It's high time we had real investment in East Kent's roads – and I will keep fighting for it.
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