Operation Stack employed in Suffolk

OPERATION Stack is again in place today with weather forecasters predicting that more high winds will hit Suffolk.

PORT chiefs were this afternoon hoping the winds would drop enough to allow shipping operations to begin again at Britain's biggest port.

Felixstowe was closed for the second day running with Operation Stack in place and hundreds of truckers forced to wait in queues on the old A45 at Levington.

Police repeatedly appealed to truckers all over the country to delay their journeys and park up at truckstops until Landguard and Trinity Terminals were able to re-open and the backlog from the stack could be cleared.

The ship-to-shore cranes cannot load and unload the ships when winds hit 45mph because of the danger.

Head of corporate affairs at the port, Paul Davey said the container terminal had been closed since midnight.

“The latest forecasts say that the wind should drop during the afternoon and this should enable us to start work on the backlog of lorries we have waiting to enter the port,” he said.

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Police and port officials feel the switch of Operation Stack to Levington had worked “fairly well” and certainly caused less congestion than using the A14 at Felixstowe as a giant lorry park.

There had been teething problems yesterday when there was some confusion among Felixstowe-based truckers who thought they had to join the stack instead of going back to their own yards to park up, and because of the sheer volume of lorry traffic.

The port had been closed on Monday and hauliers warned four days in advance. They stayed away but then they all headed for Felixstowe yesterday, arriving together and causing chaos.

Organisers stressed it was only the first time the new system had been run and in future it would be smoother and more efficient.

Getting the message across to the Felixstowe drivers to head for their home depots will be done fast.

Mr Davey said each yard was issued a number of Operation Stack tickets in proportion to the parking spaces they had - allowing drivers to get off-road and to be allowed into the port when it re-opened at the same time as the phased release of those trucks at Levington.

“There are lots of lessons to be learned and probably lots of ways we can make refinements to Operation Stack,” said Mr Davey.

“We expected teething problems but the general view among the partnership of agencies involved was to run with the new system and then to review it afterwards, and to review it each time for the first few times to see how well it is working.”