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Operation Brock in place on the M20


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Drivers using the M20 today will have to use the Operation Brock contraflow system which was set up overnight.

The motorway was closed at 8pm last night between Junction 7 for Maidstone and Junction 9 for Ashford so the moveable barrier could be installed for this morning. Any lorries which arrived in the county overnight were re-directed to Manston.

The Operation Brock barrier - which was tested earlier this month and this photo shows - is now in place on the M20
The Operation Brock barrier - which was tested earlier this month and this photo shows - is now in place on the M20

Due to open at 8am, the contraflow system will be in place between Junction 8 for Maidstone services and Junction 9.

Lorries heading for the continent will use two lanes of the coastbound carriageway at 30mph while the rest of the traffic will be directed onto a contraflow which takes two lanes of the London-bound carriageway.

This will remain in place until further notice.

Highways England tweeted at 8am to say the system was live but reports suggest the high number of lorries are making it difficult to open. The agency has since deleted the tweet and have been approached for comment.

It was due to be implemented next week ready for the end of the Brexit transition period but problems in Dover forced highways bosses to bring it in last night.

Chaos on Kent's roads began on Sunday when the French government announced a travel ban on people entering the country from the UK.

With Calais closed, lorries began to build up on the M20 and Operation Stack was implemented.

This is how the barrier will be put out on the M20

Despite hours of talks with the French, the government were unable to make an agreement to reopen the port and get the traffic moving.

In yesterday's press conference, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced Operation Brock would replace Operation Stack over night.

Mr Shapps said: "There were last night as high as about 500 lorries through to this morning which were queuing, effectively, on the motorway. That is now down to 174 lorries, and there are a few more which will be in a holding area called TAP.

Read more: Why we haven't seen the back of Operation Stack

"The main message is 'please don't travel to Kent', most people should be staying home, everybody in Tier 4 must stay at home, and in Tier 3 stay very local. We are grateful also for the hauliers, the lorry drivers, for steering clear as well - that message has been very well understood today and as a result we haven't seen any problems in the area.

"Most of the lorries who are there are primarily European hauliers looking to transit back across to the continent. We will open up Manston Airport, though for the time being it won't be for large numbers of lorries, but more for management purposes, and that's a facility we have ready because we have been planning for the end of the transition period.

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"One other development, as well, is that we will use the moveable barrier which has been constructed on the motorway, on the M20, and that enables us to set up a contraflow. That will enable traffic to flow in both directions."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson sought to reassure the nation that supply chains remain "robust" and people should continue to shop as normal despite the travel ban imposed by France.

During the press conference, Mr Johnson said: "Last night at 11pm the French government imposed restrictions on UK freight crossing to France when accompanied by a driver, and so today I chaired a meeting of the Government's emergency Cobra committee in order to co-ordinate a UK-wide response.

"It is vital, first, to stress that these delays, which are only occurring at Dover, only affect human-handled freight, and that is only 20% of the total arriving from or departing to the European continent, which means the vast majority of food, medicines and other supplies are coming and going as normal."

The PM explained the government had been working with the Kent Resilience Forum and Highways England to manage the impact of the disruption, deploying measures worked up to mitigate issues potentially arising at the end of the Brexit transition period.

How is Brexit going to affect Kent? For all the latest news, views and analysis visit our dedicated page here

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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