Page updated 19th Oct 2015

Operation Stack at Manston Airport and its effects on Cliffsend



Use of Manston Airport during Operation Stack

Summary of Parish Council Letter

The Parish Council Letter

The Letter from the authorities 28th Aug 2015

Update from Highways England 14th Oct 2015


The Cliffsend Parish Council sent a formal letter on 25th Aug 2015 about the possible effects on Cliffsend of the use of Manston Airport for lorry parking during Operation Stack.

It was sent to several organisations and local, county and national councillors.
These organisations include Kent Highways, Thanet DC, KCC, Thanet MPs.
On 28th Aug residents in the north of Cliffsend village received a hand-delivered letter issued jointly by the authorities responsible for the Manston operation.
These are
Highways England, Department of Transport, Kent Police and Kent County Council

This letter explains the Cliffsend traffic and road arrangements to be put into use if / when Manston is used for Operation Stack.

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Use of Manston Airport during Operation Stack

During Phases I and II of Operation Stack, Heavy Goods Vehicles which are heading for Dover are held up and temporarily parked on the M20.

However, during Operation Stack Phase III it is intended that the extra (non-urgent) Dover bound HGVs will be parked up at Manston Airport while the restrictions at Dover continue.

The HGVs heading towards Manston are directed onto the M2, then the A299 Thanet Way as far as the Minster roundabout; then to Manston Airport via the Minster Road.

When the HGVs exit Manston, they will do so via the Emergency Exit adjacent to Jentex – onto the Canterbury Road West in Cliffsend.

Their route to Dover is via the Cliffsend Roundabout onto the new A256 dual carriageway towards Sandwich, then to Dover – bypassing Sandwich Discovery Park (Pfizer site), Sandwich and Deal.

However, the Canterbury Road West is now heavily traffic-calmed – with the narrow traffic light controlled chicane between the Manston Airport exit and the Cliffsend Rounbabout.

There is a real risk that the HGVs will opt to take the easier route (for them) and turn towards the Lord of the Manor Roundabout, causing even more problems through Cliffsend and on the Lord of the Manor Roundabouts.

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Summary of Parish Council Letter

The council is extremely concerned about

The removal of some traffic calming measures on the Canterbury Road West to "avoid damage by HGVs".

The potental problems and effect on the village of the HGVs as they leave Manston, even if they take the "correct" route via the Cliffsend Roundabout.

The worse problems if the HGVs take the Lord of the Manor route.

The letter also contains what are considered to be appropriate and necessary precautions / provisions which should be used when HGVs leave the Airport in order to minimise the potential disruptions.

It also "requests" the replacement of any damaged / removed street furniture and traffic calming measures.

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The Parish Council Letter

25th Aug 2015

Re: Canterbury Road West & other roads in Cliffsend during the temporary use of Manston Airport for Dover Bound Operation Stack Traffic


Cliffsend Parish Council is extremely concerned that certain Road Signage and Street Furniture has been removed from Canterbury Road West, apparently (according to the workmen who removed them) to ensure that it is not hit and/or damaged by Dover bound lorry drivers who will be parking, as part of temporary Operation Stack, Phase III, at Manston Airport. 

You will no doubt be aware that Traffic Calming measures were necessary and introduced in Cliffsend, largely to ensure that the new East Kent Access Road is used as instead of local roads for vehicles not terminating their journey in Cliffsend, to avoid rat runs through the village (Foads Lane/Foads Hill in particular), and to make the roads in the village more pleasant for the residents to use.  It took a considerable amount of time to resolve and agree the road signage and street furniture, including the “gate” as traffic entered the village from the direction of Minster, and we are concerned to ensure that it is replaced when the temporary use of Manston Airport for Phase III of Operation Stack for Dover bound traffic ceases.  

In addition the Parish Council has considerable concerns relating to the HGV traffic which will be exiting Manston Airport via the emergency exit adjacent to Jentex, and the potential problems which are likely to arise and the effect it will have on the residents of Cliffsend. 

We understand that it is the intention that Manston Airport is only used when Phase III of Operation Stack comes into force, after Phases I and II have been put into operation when further vehicle parking is required.  We further understand that Dover bound HGV traffic is expected to turn right when exiting the Airport via the emergency exit next to Jentex, via Canterbury Road West towards the traffic lights, through the chicane and along the A256 towards Cliffsend Roundabout, down Hengist Way towards Sevenscore Roundabout, continuing to Ebbsfleet roundabout and subsequently continuing on the A256 to Dover. 

We are concerned that at the point the lorries are to exit Manston Airport, onto Canterbury Road West, it is an extremely narrow road, plus the lorries will be turning across the outgoing village traffic, and we believe the narrowness of the road may lead some lorry drivers, if not all, to turn left which is a far easier turn to manage in a HGV. 

Further, due to the sequence of the traffic lights on Canterbury Road West, and the chicane and extremely narrow lane through the traffic lights, this could cause problems with the lorries getting stuck at the lights, which will effectively block all incoming and outgoing village traffic on Canterbury Road West. 

We believe that in order to ensure all lorry drivers, on exiting the Airport next to Jentex, turn right the following provisions must be put in place: 

  • Each convoy is overseen / led by police (and / or highways staff) and forbidden from turning left.  No lorries being permitted to exit the site unless the Police and/or highways staff are present to accompany them off site; and
  • KCC or police must close the entrances into Cliffsend village from both the Cliffsend and LOM roundabouts when the convoy is about to leave the airport. Signed diversions via the Underpass.
  • The convoy must ignore the traffic lights on the chicane to ensure all the lorries exit as a group – no stragglers coming along later.  This may need to be done in stages of say ten lorries at a time to ensure this does not stop Cliffsend residents from entering or exiting the village, either at Cliffsend Roundabout on Canterbury Road West or via Hengist Way. Consideration should also be given to the affect the traffic along Hengist Way to Ebbsfleet will have on the traffic emerging from the Underpass, which effectively could cause traffic jams at both LOM and Haine Road, and along Canterbury Road East 
  • The road is then re-opened to normal traffic into / out of the village via the roundabouts.
  • All lorry traffic from Manston Airport must only exit via Canterbury Road West outside normal rush hours / school traffic times.  We would suggest not during the hours of 07:30am to 09:30am, or 15:00pm to 18:30pm to ensure our residents can access their homes without hindrance.
  • If it becomes apparent during the first use of Operation Stack Phase III that other problems are caused which render it unsafe to continue using the exit adjacent to Jentex, and Canterbury Road West for the HGV Dover bound traffic, the use should immediately cease and a suitable alternative found. 

Cliffsend Parish Council, and the residents of Cliffsend, feel very strongly that unless the above conditions are adhered to chaos will ensue at the chicane when the lorries try to get through, and traffic will be backing up from the Cliffsend roundabout back towards Minster and all along the Canterbury Road West, & possibly at the LOM & Haine Road too. The result will be that Cliffsend will effectively become gridlocked, when no doubt rat-running through Foads Hill / Lane will once again be seen. 

We feel that Cliffsend will become the village in East Kent most affected by the, in our view incorrect, decision to bring Dover bound traffic to Manston Airport, not only due to the increase in HGV traffic, and the inconvenience which will follow, but also the noise and pollution as a consequence.  It is therefore imperative that the above steps are taken to ensure that the residents of Cliffsend, and their safety, are protected as much as possible.

In addition we seek written assurance that all road signage and street furniture, including the gate, and traffic lights if they are removed or destroyed, are replaced without delay when the temporary Operation Stack Phase III at Manston Airport ceases, which we hope will be sooner rather than later. 

We await hearing from you to confirm the above will be put in place without delay, and before Phase III of Operation Stack is commenced.

Yours faithfully,


Ashley Stacey

Clerk to Cliffsend Parish Council.


The complete letter  –  pdf 34 Kb

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Letter from the authorities

28th Aug 2015

This contains a short introduction to the reasoning behind the use of Manston and the major routes to be used by the diverted HGVs both to Manston and then from Manston to Dover.

It lists the measures which will be put into use in Cliffsend when Manston is in use for Operation Stack.

The Canterbury Road West will be converted to 1-way operation – East to West – i.e. in via the Lord of the Manor roundabout; exit via the Cliffsend roundabout.

There will be no access to the Canterbury Road West from the Cliffsend roundabout.

Local village traffic will have to divert via the Sevenscore roundabout & either the underpass and Lord of the Manor roundabout, or via the Cottington Link Road.

HGVs leaving Manston will exit the airport onto the Canterbury Road West – via the emergency exit adjacent to Jentex.

They will turn right and leave Cliffsend at the Cliffsend roundabout (via the chicane), heading towards Sandwich / Dover on the A256 Richborough Way.

The letter also contains a diversion map for local residents.


The entire letter    pdf – 198 kb

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Update explanation from Highways England – Oct 2015


To summarise the restrictions:-

When Operation Stack phase III is operational (and only then)

The Canterbury West Road will be made 1-way, but only from the airfield emergency exit by Jentex to the Cliffsend roundabout.

The "chicane" will be OUT of the village only.

All traffic wishing to enter the village from the Cliffsend roundabout will have to divert via the underpass or via the Cottington Link Road.

Village traffic from the village roads which open onto the Canterbury Road West will be able to turn either way onto the Canterbury West Road as normal.


Highways England explanation

Please be assured that if Operation Stack is required again, Manston Airfield will only be used if it is likely capacity will be reached for holding lorries on the M20 coastbound carriageway between junctions 8 and 11 (phase 1 & 2). Lorries bound for Eurotunnel would continue to be held on the M20 but lorries travelling to Dover would be directed to Manston via junction 7 of the M20, the A249, M2 junction 5 to 7 and then eastbound on the A299 to A253. Lorries diverted to Manston would access the gate at the eastern end before continuing their journey to Dover via the A256.


Canterbury Road West will only become a one-way route from the Manston exit heading west towards the Hengist Way I Canterbury Road West roundabout meaning that access for residents on that section of Canterbury Road West (Cliff View Road, Clive Road, Sea View Road, Foads Hill, Windsor Road, King Arthur Road and Arundel Road) will require a diversion onto Hengist Way to the Lord of Manor roundabout (Pegwell/Ramsgate roundabout) so that Canterbury Road West can be accessed from the east.


To clarify, when there is a need to implement a one-way system, residents on roads leading to this particular section of Canterbury Road West will be able to exit onto Canterbury Road West by turning either left or right at the junction heading eastward. Therefore, residents are permitted to use Canterbury Road West to and from Lord of the Manor when Operation Stack Phase 3 is being implemented .

When Manston Airfield is being used we will be monitoring traffic on diversion routes closely so that we along with Kent County council can minimise the impact on local residents and roads.

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