Brexit lorry parks in Somerset?
It does seem unlikely. But last week the Government passed a new piece of legislation. The Town and Country Planning (Border Facilities and Infrastructure) (EU Exit) (England) Special Development Order 2020 is not a snappy title.
As the introduction explains the point of the Order is to grant temporary planning permissions. These will be granted to accommodate the use of land for parking and processing of vehicles, especially goods vehicles entering or leaving Great Britain. It will also streamline planning permissions for temporary facilities and infrastructure.
It is all about Brexit and planning ahead. It is to ensure we have facilities in place if lorries back up and customs systems are overwhelmed. The Order is time limited, and any permitted development must end by 31 December 2025. Full reinstatement to how the land was before must have been completed by 31 December 2026.
All of which sounds to be so very much South East England. After all we have heard horror stories on lorry parks in Kent. So what has this got to do with Somerset?
That we can explain. At least in part. The Order has a list, and it is quite a restricted list, of councils in which the Order applies. It is not intended to apply right across the UK.
So it was of great curiosity to see that Somerset County Council is on the list of areas this new Order applies to. Which is odd. Dorset also appears on the list but there are sailings to and from the EU from Dorset. So there is at least some (but still not much) logic in that.
By contrast Somerset does not exactly have port facilities and I’m pretty sure there are no international sailings from Burnham on Sea. The reason for Somerset appearing on the list is both hard to fathom and somewhat worrying.
And if central government know what they have in mind, they haven’t yet got around to telling anyone in Somerset. we contacted Somerset County Council to find out what they knew about the plans. A spokesperson for SCC told us “These plans are being developed centrally and we have not yet been consulted about possible locations.” Although we have not heard officially, The Leveller® understands that the District Councils have also been kept in the dark.