The FTA has come out in favour of Manston Airport as a short to medium term contingency for Operation Stack, after it was revealed the government had paid approaching £6m to rent it.

The figure was finally released after an internal review was conducted of the DfT decision not to release it initially.

Senior civil servant Anthony Ferguson said that “the strong case in favour of disclosure is not outweighed by the arguments against”.

As a result, in a letter released to, Ferguson said that between August 2015 and 15 December 2017, the DfT paid £5,742,011.73 to the owner.

The former airport has never been used to park lorries, but the DfT has regularly made payments to the land owner in order to keep it available should an emergency parking situation arise.

Christopher Snelling, head of UK policy at FTA, said: “While the price of renting Manston Airport might appear high, the cost of failing to prepare for a possible closure of the Port of Dover would be far greater for the local community, and business as a whole across the country.

“When Operation Stack is implemented, the money lost by UK businesses runs into many millions of pounds, not to mention the cost to the Kent economy and massive disruption to local residents.

“Vital deliveries are delayed, fresh food rots in the back of trucks, tourists stay away from Kent and local residents are unable to go about their daily lives.

“Moving trucks into Manston while they wait for cross-Channel access, while not ideal, would relieve pressure on the local infrastructure and go some way to reduce this impact.”

Snelling said the FTA would like a viable long-term solution to closures at Dover, such as the proposed parking area near the village of Stanford [abandoned by the government late last year].

“However, until such a solution is put in place, the cost of renting Manston is an insurance policy we cannot afford to lose,” he said.

The RHA has attacked the price and called for the DfT to put in place an alternative to Manston quickly.