Cllr Trudy Dean writes; Many people are concerned about the amount of traffic which might come from the Aylesford Newsprint site if it is redeveloped for modern businesses which may employ many more people and generate more traffic than the former highly automated paper mill. One possible solution being suggested is a left in - left out entrance from and exit to M20 direct from the site.
It is very unclear what the effect of this might be. For instance, it might encourage rat running by traffic avoiding the A20 or Maidstone traffic jams. But in order for Highways England to even think about this, KCC as Highways Authority needed to push them into exploring the option.
I asked a formal question at County Council (a bit like PM questions) to encourage them to do so. KCC confirmed that it is pressing Highways England to explore this option. However, they got the reply that Highways England are opposed to the idea. They say it does not meet their safety guidance on the distance between junctions to allow for weaving traffic. They also say that it would mess up their plans for a smart motorway operation, due to open next year, between junctions 3 and 5 at Aylesford. This is where variable speed limits are used to increase the capacity of the motorway and traffic can be instructed to use the hard shoulder.
I pointed out that TMBC will not oppose the application on highway grounds unless they get a clear statement of opposition from KCC Highways as well. The Cabinet Member replied that he ‘could not interfere with the professional judgement of officers’.