Disused airport becomes lorry park for 150 vehicles in dry run for No Deal Brexit

MINISTER Chris Grayling is hiring 150 truckers to test plans to use a ‘Dambusters’ airfield to beat traffic jams caused by a No Deal Brexit.

The Transport Secretary is spending around £60,000 to see if the Government can use Manston airport near Ramsgate, Kent, as a lorry park in the event of chronic congestion at Dover.

Officials have summoned up to 150 HGVs for a drill on Monday to prove the plans can work.

The fleet will start out at Manston, then travel the 36 miles from the airport along the A256 to the crucial Port of Dover.

Two tests will take place – one at rush hour and another later in the day.

Local hauliers are being paid to take part in the exercise which is meant to iron out any problems.

The Government was forced to come clean about the secret plans after they were discovered by Isle of Thanet News.

Ministers are worried that in a No Deal scenario, Dover will become unbearably congested and lorries will have to park along the M20 motorway.

Manston is being fitted out to provide an alternative place where HGVs can be stored while they wait for access to ships.

Industry bosses blasted the Government for waiting until three months before Brexit to start testing the palns.

The Department for Transport said today: "We do not want or expect a No Deal scenario and continue to work hard to deliver a deal with the EU.

"However, it is the duty of a responsible government to continue to prepare for all eventualities and contingencies, including a possible no deal.

"We will be testing part of Operation Brock to ensure that, if it needs to be implemented, the system is fully functional."

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Kent County Council added: "We are working with the Department for Transport to ensure there is an effective plan in place should there be any disruption once the UK has left the EU."

This week officials gave the green light for Ramsgate harbour to be dredged so it can be turned into a "second Dover".

But ministers were mocked after it emerged that ferry services from Dover will be run by a firm which owns no ships.

Manston could house 6,000 lorries. Barnes Wallis used it during World War Two for tests for his bouncing bomb.

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