Operation Brock causes chaos for international hauliers

Published: 27 March 2019

Operation Brock causes chaos for international hauliers
Truckers have said they are “mystified” regarding the speed limits currently in place due to the possibility of a no deal Brexit, they have said the idea is “inflexible” and “outdated”.

The RHA has expressed their concerns following the deployment of Operation Brock, which demands lorry drivers heading towards Europe drive at 30MPH along the coastbound approach of the M20. Other vehicles, including other lorries also have to use a 50MPH contraflow with 2 other lanes in each direction for the London-bound side of the M20.

Operation Brock was put into action by Highways England on Monday from 6AM onwards, this was set inbetween junction eight for Maidstone and junction nine for Ashford. It is a £25 million temporary no-deal plan for Brexit – which will avoid any traffic jams should a deal not be met by the time the UK leaves the EU, which could lead to a lot of lorries reaching ports such as Dover and experiencing severe delays if they wish to cross the English Channel.

A spokeswoman on behalf of the RHA spoke on the matter: “Highways England originally planned to implement Operation Brock as a Brexit contingency. “The RHA is therefore mystified as to why, considering the fact that Brexit is now over two weeks away, Brock has already been activated.

“Kent motorists recently had to contend with a multitude of roadworks on the M2 and M20, often with full closures of both routes, some simultaneously. We think Highways England’s approach is inflexible and needs to change to take account of the prevailing situation. As things stand, Kent businesses and residents have to adapt their working patterns to accommodate Highways England plans. This is an outdated concept and must change.”

When the changes were put in place, Highways England said they would remain in place “indefinitely” in addition to the contraflow until they provide further updates – meaning that the M20 will likely remain this way until there is further confirmation regarding the Government’s Brexit plans.

Highways England say the alterations have not caused any alterations or disruptions to traffic flow in the area. This hasn’t stopped drivers from taking to social media to vent their frustration regarding the changes to the M20 since Monday when Operation Brock was put into action. One user tweeted “God help Kent! #operationbrock”.

The RHA elaborated on the matter, saying: “It’s vital that the tens of thousands of trucks and other vehicles that use this route every day get an indication as to how long this current ‘temporary’ situation is due to last.
“We’ve heard reports of insufficient signage up to junction 8 of the M20. Other reports of disruption include delays on the southbound A249 at Detling Hill heading towards junction seven of the M20. “It’s certainly a comprehensive contingency plan but we’re very concerned that it’s already causing disruption.” The RHA thinks a no-deal Brexit would be a “disaster for businesses”. 

The spokeswoman continued: “The infrastructure is not in place to cope with the frictional movements and businesses are just not ready.” Dover MP Charlie Elphicke said he had “serious concerns” about introducing Operation Brock as it was “pointless during normal conditions”. He also said using the airfield was a “bad idea” as it was too far from the port and along single-carriage road, adding: “That’s why this project is just kicking the can down the motorway. I want to see proper investment - in lorry parks and a dualled A2.”

Speaking on behalf of the FTA, Heidi Skinner shared their thoughts on the operation: “We will just have to live with Brock until we come to a more permanent solution.”

Operation Brock took the place of the originally planned Operation Stack, which could still be put into action to queue lorries looking to travel internationally along the M20. Following strikes and migrant activity in 2015, Calais saw some major delays and Operation Stack was put into action. This closed the M20 in both directions for 3 weeks. Costing the country an estimated £1.45 million a day, as well as the economy £250 million a day (according to research by Kent County Council).

 Operation Stack was used once more for the first time since 2015 earlier in the month as Storm Gareth caused major disruptions ad the Port of Dover. Operation Brock has further plans set to turn Manston Airport into a large lorry park if Britain pursues a no-deal Brexit.
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