Date announced for Operation Brock activation

By Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent

Measures to manage traffic on Kent’s motorways in preparation for a no-deal Brexit will be implemented later this month, the Department for Transport has announced.

Operation Brock will come into force on October 28, three days before the UK is due to withdraw from the EU.

Lorries heading for Europe will face a 30mph on a 13-mile stretch of the coastbound carriage of the M20.

All other traffic on the motorway – including lorries carrying out UK deliveries – must use a 50mph contraflow of two lanes in each direction on the London-bound side of the road.

Several holding areas to park lorries are also available to be activated if required, including at Manston Airfield.

Hauliers must be ready to show they have the correct paperwork before reaching the border or face being turned back.

Traffic officers in Kent will be handed new powers from October 31 – the date the UK is due to leave the EU – to ensure lorries are complying with the Operation Brock system.

The measures are aimed at minimising disruption and keeping local traffic moving.

Transport Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “We want residents in Kent and hauliers travelling from across the EU to be reassured that there are robust plans in place to deal with any disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

“We now need everyone to do their bit. Whether you are travelling to see family, heading to work or transporting vital goods around the country, please check before you travel to ensure you know what to expect and have the right documents when heading to the border.”

Operation Brock was initially deployed on March 25, four days ahead of the first planned Brexit date.

It was deactivated around three weeks later following the delay to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, but the steel barriers for the contraflow system and 50mph speed limit remain in place.

Freight Transport Association policy manager Heidi Skinner said: “Any move which keeps traffic flowing to and from the coast, and through and around Kent, is to be welcomed in order to keep Britain trading.

“Our members have been asking for clarity on the arrangements for some time, so this news will help them to prepare for a potential no-deal Brexit and any resulting traffic disruption which may occur.”

Philip Gomm of the RAC Foundation said: “Hauliers travelling to the continent will hope that the delays to Brexit at least mean there has been time to ensure that when we leave the EU the Operation Brock contingencies will work seamlessly.

“However, for Kent residents who have had to put up with disruption on the M20 for many months, caused not just by Brock preparations but also carriageway and junction enhancements, there will be nervousness about what happens after October 31.”