No deal Brexit preparations will include customs administration being carried out at the Manston airport site.
The government’s HMRC department says it is the only site of its size available in Kent and “its owners are content to have it on standby for use if there is any serious travel disruption.”
The site already has a special development order designating it for use as a lorry park to cope with possible post-Brexit jams at the Port of Dover came into effect.
The order ‘augmented’ the deal to use Manston as a short-term solution for Operation Stack which was first struck with site owners Stone Hill Park in August 2015 following a Summer of disruption due to French strikes and growing migrant camps in Calais.
The aim is to park lorries up at the site and so reduce pressure on the M20. The government extended the deal in November 2017 to run until the end of 2019.
The new order extended the deal until December 31, 2020 with additions to allow work on the site to create a new access, add temporary hardstanding and modifications to the new entrance and create lining and signage.
Some £4.9million was earmarked to be spent on the work to increase capacity at the site to hold 6,000 – rather than the initial projection of 4,000 – lorries although preparations were scaled back following the decision by European Union leaders to grant the UK a six-month ‘extension’ until October 31 on its departure from the EU.
New Prime Minister Boris Johnson has now stepped up planning and funding for the no-deal scenario.