Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Garden of England to be Turned into a Toilet Block

So This is What the Government Thinks of HGV Drivers
Shipping News Feature
UK – We have written before of the mish-mash of government proposals to deal with delays to the Port of Dover, particularly in the case of a failed Brexit negotiation. We had the giant lorry park thrown out by the Court after it failed to conduct an environmental study under its own planning legislation. Under the current proposals for Operation Brock, the two centre lanes of the east bound M20 will be used for access by emergency services and other selected vehicles whilst HGV drivers queue along the motorway, à la the discredited Operation Stack.

Now, in another ‘you couldn’t make it up’ announcement the authorities have decided that the plaintive cries to supply the necessities of normal life should be answered if the worse happens. The solution? Hundreds of portable toilets are to be distributed along the motorway to offer relief to lorry drivers facing gridlock in tailbacks of traffic heading towards the coast after negotiations result in ‘no deal’. (That’s the same no deal and delays the Minister of Transport repeatedly assures us won’t ever happen).

As the Road Haulage Association (RHA) pointed out when the news was released, toilet facilities are only part of the issue surrounding Operation Brock. In 2015, queues of 4,600 lorries stretched for 30 miles, and the RHA gained the co-operation of the big supermarket chains to donate food and water as the Government had on that occasion failed to consider the basic welfare of drivers.

Thirteen miles of the coast-bound M20, between junction eight near Maidstone and junction nine near Ashford, have been earmarked to hold 2000 HGVs, but in the event of a no-deal Brexit, each truck will have to complete customs formalities, the RHA says adding at least 45 minutes to its transit time through the Port. Who will provide food and water for drivers when Brock becomes ‘the norm’? RHA chief executive Richard Burnett put his organisations point of view, saying:

Of course we welcome the news that the needs of the thousands of HGV drivers heading towards Dover each day have been taken into consideration but how on earth will the system work? If the hard shoulder is to be used for traffic heading towards the Tunnel and the outside lane used by traffic heading towards the Port,- where will the toilets be located? We cannot expect drivers to run across 2 active motorway lanes.

“A more effective, hygienic and safe solution is needed. Thought should to be given to mobile truck mounted facilities that can utilise the central area, be easily emptied and cleaned. On peak days over 10,000 freight vehicles pass through Dover. To plan for 2000 trucks over 13 miles is at best wildly optimistic. Drivers don’t just need somewhere to stop, they need to be given the same consideration as all other road users. Toilets facilities, food and water are a human right, not a privilege.”

Photo: Kent County Council say Operation Brock derives its name from ‘Brexit Operations Across Kent’ whilst other residents simply call it Operation Broken.