SOS Kent’s Survey Results Taken at Highway England Exhibition / Consultations
Survey highlights public anger over government’s Kent lorry park scheme
A survey about the government’s £250 million scheme to build a 250 acre lorry park in Kent shows huge public anger and opposition to the development.
90 per cent of respondents to a survey carried out by the SOS Kent campaign group declared themselves opposed to the multi-million pound scheme. Volunteers from the campaign captured the views of more than 80 per cent of those attending eight public exhibitions held in East Kent to present information about the development. SOS Kent opposes plans by the government and Highways England to build the lorry park just off the M20 at Stanford. The campaign group is calling for smarter options to resolve traffic problems caused by cross-Channel disruption and rejects the authorities’ claims the lorry park will solve Operation Stack.
Responses to the survey showed a whopping 73 per cent of people voted against the lorry park proposal during the initial consultation carried out in January this year. A further 16 per cent said they were unaware that the consultation had even taken place. Only 15 people stated that they had voted in support of the scheme, raising questions about Highways England’s claim that the proposal had broad public support.
In a damning indictment of the public body’s handling of the proposed development, only 10 per cent of those surveyed said they felt fully informed about the scheme and its possible impact on the local area. A further 71 per cent said they didn’t feel that they had been given enough opportunities to make their voices heard or that their views had been taken on board during the consultation period.
Many respondents stated in the survey that they believe the scheme is being rushed through and will not provide a solution for Operation Stack, with fears the lorry park will lay empty most of the time. Matthew Webb, chair of Stanford Parish Council and a spokesman for SOS Kent, said: “The results of our survey are clear – there is huge public opposition to the government’s proposed lorry park both in the villages affected and in neighbouring towns like Dover and Folkestone. Yet local cllrs and MPs have ignored the views of their constituents and given very vocal support for the scheme. This whole process has been incredibly undemocratic and local people are worried that they haven’t been given an opportunity to make their voices heard.
“The survey backs up the conversations I’ve been having with residents and businesses in this area: the people of Kent see this scheme as a massive waste of public money that is a disastrous knee-jerk reaction to the exceptional events we saw last year, with Operation Stack in place for 32 days. This government is presenting us with a done deal – a development that will concrete over 250 acres of Kent countryside to create a huge lorry park that will sit empty. We’re determined to fight their attempt to impose this scheme on us and we’ve already taken the first steps to start a full judicial review of the scheme.”
SOS Kent has already raised more than £15,000 towards the cost of the legal action through donations from the community and sales of a CD featuring their campaign song, a cover of Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi, sung by Kent’s up-and-coming jazz and soul songstress Emilee Boyce.
“Cinque Ports” Bulletin 26 October 2016
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