Government buys 27-acre site amid post-Brexit ‘lorry park’ fears

The government has bought a 27-hectare property in Kent that opponents fear will become a “truck park” after Brexit.

The Department of Transportation (DfT) is believed to be trying to buy the land near Ashford as it prepares for possible trade breaks as a result of the EU exit.

However, this raised concerns that the site could be used as a huge parking lot for thousands of trucks waiting to drive across the continent.

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<figcaption>Secretary of Transport Rachel Maclean wrote to residents (Chris McAndrew / UK Parliament / PA)</figcaption></figure>
<p>In a letter to the residents on Wednesday, Minister of Transport Rachel Maclean confirmed that the DfT had bought the land and was now planning “two main uses” for the site.</p>
<p>She said, “First, government departments plan to use it as a permanent location for facilities related to future border processes, particularly HMRC (as a departure / arrival point for goods carried under transit agreements) and Defra (as a border control point) for goods who need hygienic and phytosanitary controls).</p>
<p>"Secondly, the location can also be used as an emergency truck stopping area for the special, foreseeable risk of significant disruption at the end of the transition period."</p>
<p>Ms. Maclean said there was "no intention" to develop the site as a permanent truck stop in the event of a "cross-channel disruption".</p>
<p>She said that preparatory work on the site will begin this week, including securing the perimeter, clearing grass and vegetation, and taking surveys.</p>
<p>Ashford MP Damian Green said he opposed plans to use the site as a "truck park" as it would be close to new housing developments and possible effects on access to Ashford's William Harvey Hospital.</p>
<p>But he said he would not be against using part of the site for border controls.</p>
<p>"I accept that they need to be done somewhere near the highway," he told PA news agency earlier this week.</p>
<p>"It has no impact on local traffic and local air pollution. I think this is a much more acceptable proposition than a temporary park for thousands of trucks."</p>
<p>A DfT spokeswoman said: “By the end of this year, Britain will become a completely independent country and regain control of our borders.</p>
<p>"This location will be part of our ongoing plans to ensure the free flow of goods at the border when we start again at the end of the transition period."</p>
<p>The DfT said it will work "closely" with community leaders to ensure that residents and businesses are kept informed of the progress of the plans.</p>
<p>Mandy Rossi of the Ashford Green Party said she was "appalled" that the city's residents were unable to have any say in the plans for a "truck park".</p>
<p>She added: "In addition to the many new housing developments that are already in motion, we will lose even more green spaces, which has a devastating effect on local biodiversity and air quality."</p>
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