Statement by Craig MacKinlay M.P. for South Thanet
4 August 2015
Both Sir Roger Gale MP and myself have made representations for weeks, to all levels of Government, about the geographic unsuitability of Manston airport to be at all part of strategic planning to alleviate Operation Stack on the M20. The A256 is not up to the task of managing substantial lorry movements to Dover and we have fears that our summer vital tourist trade could be affected.
I received a call from a cabinet member today to explain why Manston had been selected by COBRA, Transport England and Kent Police as the only viable option (in their view) to be part of planning for future OpStack escalations.
I received the following assurances:-
1. Manston will firstly be used on a limited phased basis to prove suitability
2. It will be used for lorries trying to reach Calais Port only. Illegal migrant incursions at Calais port have diminished substantially over recent weeks following tougher controls, fencing and increased Border force action by UK and French officers. Militant strike action by ferry workers is the ongoing risk totally outside of our control.
3. All traffic movements will be marshalled by Kent Police both in and out of Manston. It will not be managed simply by signage.
4. I have received a commitment that any damage to the fabric of the airport will be fully re-instated at the expense of the government. I will not allow this to be any first step towards diminishing the ability of the site to return to being an airport.
5. If traffic flow causes unacceptable impedance to travel to, from, or within Thanet the operation will be withdrawn.
Craig Mackinlay MP said “I am bitterly disappointed at this decision; I hope it will be short-lived. Given the M20 crisis and the true misery experienced by residents and businesses along that corridor, I respect the government’s reasoning in seeking a variety of alternatives for the greater good of wider Kent but am unconvinced that this one will work. The route of this crisis starts thousands of miles away, but French authorities need to do significantly more to keep this fundamental border running smoothly.”
Craig MacKinlay M.P.