Kent County Council is consulting on recently introduced restrictions that forbid trucks from waiting or using laybys on many of its roads, ahead of plans to review the scheme to decide whether it should be made permanent or abandoned.
The restrictions, which the council says are designed to avoid danger to people or other traffic using the roads and preserve local amenities, came into force in January. They are to be in force ‘on an experimental basis’ for an 18-month period, but could be extended depending on the results of the consultation.
The order introduces a prohibition on waiting which applies 24/7 on all roads for prohibited vehicles of five tonnes and over across the Boroughs of Ashford, Maidstone, and Swale and the Districts of Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone & Hythe, and Thanet, with the exception of the laybys off the following roads: A249 between M20 J7 and M2 J5, the A299 M2 J7 to the junction with the A256, and the A256 junction with the A299 to the junction with A2.
Tom Cotton, the Road Haulage Association’s manager for policy and infrastructure in England and Wales, said: “The situation in Kent is extremely complex, with multiple different pieces of legislation being used. Within [the order] there is provision for HGV drivers to take their 45-minute break.
“The effective French border closure on December 20 because of Covid threw the area into chaos, to the extent that the town of Dover and surrounding area were gridlocked with trucks with nowhere to go: a local Covid testing centre was actually cut off by traffic; and as a consequence legislation was hastily introduced.
“Because of Covid restrictions, we have been unable get down there and see the situation on the ground; we are relying on RHA members to inform us of the situation.
“On previous occasions, Highways England have provided schematic maps of routes about how the Strategic Road Network will operate. This is different because Kent County Council roads are being used and the information about routing has been difficult to find; quite frankly the poor communications mean it’s a bit of a mess down there. However, we are working with Kent County Council, and have managed to get some laybys reopened. It is very important that trucks stick to the designated routes down to the ports and tunnel.”
The RHA have opposed restrictions of any type which will adversely impact road freight operations in Kent, both domestic and international.
Interested parties can take part in the consultation via this website.