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Brexit lorry park process ‘a disgrace’ for bypassing planning process, say councillors

PUBLISHED: 11:30 23 October 2020

Questions have been raised over whether Suffolk will get a Brexit lorry park in anticipation of hold ups at the country's ports when the transition period ends on December 31. Picture: ARCHANT

Questions have been raised over whether Suffolk will get a Brexit lorry park in anticipation of hold ups at the country's ports when the transition period ends on December 31. Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

Government plans to bypass the planning system in order to set up lorry parks for queued up port traffic post-Brexit have been dubbed “a disgrace” amid fears locals will not get a voice.

Peter Gardiner from Suffolk County Council's opposition Labour group said the government's Brexit lorry parks plan rode roughshod over democracy. Picture: ARCHANTPeter Gardiner from Suffolk County Council's opposition Labour group said the government's Brexit lorry parks plan rode roughshod over democracy. Picture: ARCHANT

Parliament set up statutory powers on September 24 which means it will not have to go through the usual planning permission process in order to set up lorry parks in time for the ending of the UK transition period for leaving the European Union on December 31.

Up to 29 parks could be established across the UK in expectation of lorries being held up at ports to and from Europe because of more stringent checks and red tape with the UK no longer being an EU member.

MORE: Will Suffolk get a Brexit lorry park?

While the government has not yet said it plans to build a park in Suffolk, the large amount of freight travelling through the county to and from the Port of Felixstowe means fears have been expressed that a park could be built near the A14 without adequate input from locals.

Suffolk County Council’s opposition Labour group put forward a motion to Thursday afternoon’s full council meeting, calling for the authority to write to the Government requesting a reversal of the decision to bypass the planning process.

Suffolk cabinet member for highways Andrew Reid said the parks were entirely necessary given the short time period to the end of the year. Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCILSuffolk cabinet member for highways Andrew Reid said the parks were entirely necessary given the short time period to the end of the year. Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

However, the motion was lost with only 19 in favour and 44 against.

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Labour group deputy leader Peter Gardiner labelled it “a disgrace” and said the government had “introduced legislation that gives itself sweeping powers to flatten the Suffolk countryside at short notice in order to build lorry parks”.

He said: “I admit the lorry parks look entirely necessary under the current circumstances and long delays of goods-checking at our borders seeming inevitable.

“The competent and democratic way of introducing the lorry parks would have been to consult in advance and go through the planning process to listen to what local people have got to say.

“Instead the Government made the choice to bypass the planning process, deny Suffolk residents a voice and ride roughshod over our democracy.”

But Conservative cabinet member for highways, Andrew Reid said the short timescales until the transition period ends made it entirely necessary.

He said it “does still necessitate engagement with relevant parties” such as lead local flood authority, fire service, planning authority, relevant parish councils and highways team.

He added: “Given the timelines involved it’s highly unlikely now to be able to amend the legislation now and start and finish the traditional planning process by the time of transition.

“It’s very necessary and very understandable in the circumstances.”


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