An airfield in Kent has cost the taxpayer close to £6m, with the government renting the facility for use as a temporary lorry park. There's just one problem – the site has never been used.
Manston airfield near Ramsgate was rented back in 2015 as an emergency measure, after worker's strikes at Calais caused mayhem for truckers. Intended as an overflow park for truckers bogged down in congestion en route to ports, the site has yet to be used by a single lorry since its introduction almost three years ago.
In the event of disruption to ferry or Eurotunnel services, police direct freight traffic to queue on a section of the M20 motorway between junctions 8 and 11 – a process known as 'Operation Stack'. Manston airfield has been kept as contingency in case this section of motorway fills up.
Instead, it's stagnated and cost the government – and the taxpayer – the equivalent of £6,700 per day.
The Road Haulage Association, an organisation representing lorry and goods vehicle drivers in the UK, said that the lack of use was due to the site's 'completely unsuitable' location.
Its chief executive, Richard Burnett, said: "Manston Airport was only supposed to be a short-term contingency following the mayhem we saw on the M20 during the summer of 2015, but two and a half years later the taxpayer is still footing the bill for a facility that's never been used.
"It's a completely unsuitable location as the road network in that part of Kent is not geared up to accommodating hundreds of HGVs, yet the Government is spending thousands a day to keep it available when it should be investing in proper parking facilities."
Plans for a 3,600 space lorry park alongside the M20 were submitted last year, but were rejected in November when it was found the government did not undertake a full environmental study prior to proceeding.