Written by the MP for Folkestone and Hythe, Kent
Over the past week we have seen some of the toughest road conditions in Kent in seven years.
The M20 has been closed to coastal traffic between Junctions 8 and 11, and this section of the motorway is used to accommodate nearly 2,000 queued lorries.
These queues move slowly, with nearly 300 trucks leaving per hour.
We have also introduced the Kent Permit for local hauliers so they can wait in their depot to be called to Eurotunnel or the Port of Dover to make their crossing.
There is close coordination with local authorities, police and ports through the Kent Resilience Forum, including providing social support to drivers stuck on the motorway.
Everything that can be done is done, but the situation is expected to remain very difficult during the Easter period.
It’s no comfort to people stuck in traffic, whether on the motorway or the congested A20 that serves as a detour route for passenger vehicles.
This crisis is the result of the ruthless actions of P&O Ferries to lay off its entire workforce with the intention of replacing them with poorly paid agency workers.
This decision has so far left the Marine and Coastguard Agency no choice but to declare that the P&O Ferries are currently unseaworthy as they do not have crews of experienced seafarers used to working on the busiest shipping lane in the world.
Whatever the consequences for us on land, we cannot compromise safety at sea.
The weight of traffic that passes through the Strait of Dover each day is so heavy that any delays in processing departures can lead to long delays. In this case, the lack of operational ferries is to blame for the congestion in Dover.
Over the past few years, there has been considerable planning on how we deal with situations like this.
The movable barrier was introduced on the M20 so that we can operate a contraflow to keep the motorway open in both directions, even when the coastal carriageway is closed to accommodate queuing lorries.
However, such has been the large number of vehicles waiting in Kent to leave the country, it has not been possible to use it for this purpose at present.
However, the current situation cannot last.
If there is no substantial reduction in the number of lorries queuing, the Kent Resilience Forum should look at all options that have been considered before, including parking lorries at Manston Airport on the border inland from Sevington near Ashford, using the M26 and re-establishing the riptide on the M20.
This week the government also announced its long term plan for UK power generation with the aim of producing 95% of our electricity from low carbon sources by the end of the decade and to open eight new nuclear power plants on existing nuclear sites. by 2030.
This is good news and I have long advocated Dungeness as a suitable location for new small modular nuclear reactors.
I met Rolls Royce who are leading the consortium to deliver them, to ensure that Dungeness is one of these new stations to be built.