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Operation Stack brought in on M20 due to Storm Gareth

By Molly Mileham-Chappell

Police and Highways England have confirmed they are starting preparations to remove Operation Stack.

The coastbound carriageway of the M20 is now open between junctions 8 and 9.

However, an official statement said "This may take some time to complete", while police added there could still be some delays.

Officers earlier warned motorists will be subjected to delays across the east of the county as a result of adverse weather conditions and lengthy queues at Dover, exacerbated by Storm Gareth.

Police confirmed Operation Stack was being put in place at around 12.20pm yesterday.

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Here's how the events of Wednesday and Thursday unfolded:

Thursday

4.35pm

Police and Highways England have confirmed they are starting preparations to remove Operation Stack.

3pm

It's time for an animal picture

1.16pm

The latest from DFDS

11.23am In the north of the county, the weather is causing more chaos. Two lanes closed and slow traffic due to strong winds on M25 QE2 Bridge

9.57am Our reporter at the scene describes the scene

9.44am Molly is the lucky reporter that gets to stand on a bridge and watch lorries.

8am kmfm's Rob Wills is stuck with you all

7.49am

It's affecting school buses too

7.33am

I'm not sure many are happy to see you...

7.21am

DFDS confirm freight is crossing the channel but it's very busy at Calais and Dunkirk.

6am

Police announce Stack will 'run well into this afternoon.'

Wednesday

8pm

Police announce Operation Stack will remain in place for around 24 hours

4.30pm

4.20pm

KentOnline reporter Molly Mileham-Chappell has videoed the lorries from the Sandyhurst Lane bridge in Kennington.

3.17pm

INRIX our travel news provider has tracked an individual lorry queuing on the A2 to get into Dover.

The driver .... He joined the queue at 8.40am and has only just, at 2.30pm got to the top of Jubilee Way, Dover.

INRIX also tracked a different lorry and it took just under two hours to get from A258 Deal Road to the bottom of Jubliee Way, so some drivers have been waiting up to eight hours to get to the port which may push some over the allowed daily driving hours.

3.08pm

Highways England issue advice for motorists heading towards Dover

Drivers heading to the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel are being advised to plan ahead and leave extra time for their journeys because of Operation Stack.

The high winds have led to severe restrictions on ferries arriving and leaving Dover, which has lead to hugely reduced capacity, with traffic queueing at the port.

This has also a knock-on effect for Eurotunnel traffic.

All Europe-bound freight traffic should head towards Dover on the M20 to join the queue at junction 8.

Local and non-freight traffic must leave the M20 at junction 8.

The diversions for non-freight traffic are: If you're heading to Eurotunnel, use the M20 and A20 and follow the hollow circle diversion symbol and if you're heading to the Port of Dover, use the A2, M2, A2 towards Dover.

Drivers are advised to plan their journeys and allow extra time if required and should check travel conditions before setting out and, where it is safe to do so, during journeys, make sure you have some supplies for your journey, such as food and water.

2.55pm

Dover MP Charlie Elphicke tweets about needing a lorry park

2.35pm

This is where the road has been closed, but it is likely to cause problems in surrounding areas

2.31pm

Eurotunnel is operating as planned. Might be a good idea to get there early though!

2.29pm

The Head of Dover College also shares his thoughts on Brexit as he goes past the lorries

2.23pm

Patients are being warned to give themselves more time to get to hospital appointments by Thanet CCG

2.11pm

While we mention Brexit, here is all the latest news ahead of tonight's no-deal vote

2.09pm

The Road Haulage Association has reminded us all about Brexit

1.35pm

DFDS Channel Freight tweet to say the A2 is still congested

1.12pm Nu-Venture say people will face delays on buses in the Maidstone area

1.04pm

Highways England south east tweet Operation Stack is active

12:56pm

A good reminder that Stack affects surrounding towns too

12:47pm

Damian Green is not pleased

12.20pm

Kent Police: "As of 12.20pm Operation Stack is being put in place on the coastbound carriageway of the M20 between junctions 8 and 9.

"This is due to adverse weather conditions affecting Channel crossings at the Port of Dover.

"Manston Airfield is currently not being used to queue Dover-bound freight."

What is Operation Stack?

Operation Stack, also known as Op Stack, is a way of managing traffic during disruption to Eurotunnel or ferry services in Kent.

Lorry drivers waiting to use these services should be prepared to queue on the M20.

All other traffic is diverted to other routes.

It is used between junction 8 for the Maidstone services and junction 9 in Ashford.

If more space is needed, the closed section extends to junction 11 at Westenhanger.

What happens in Operation Stack?

Freight is separated into two queues coastbound, with one for tunnel traffic and and for port traffic.

Middle lanes must be kept clear for emergency vehicles.

Lorries are released in stages at the request of the Port of Dover and Channel Tunnel, gradually clearing the motorway.

All tourists and non-freight traffic will need to use the alternative signposted routes and are advised to leave in plenty of time.

If you're heading to the tunnel use the M20 and A20 and follow the hollow circle diversion symbol.

If you're heading to the port, use the A2, M2, A2. If you're already on the M20 when Op Stack is put in place you'll be diverted off at junction 7 towards Dover.

Recovery vehicles are usually put on standby to clear the route in case of breakdowns.

It is also police advice to ensure sure you have bottles of water and food with you in case of delays.

The history of Operation Stack

The system was last used during the summer of 2015, causing traffic hell for motorists in Kent when it was in force for more than 30 days due to disruption at the ports caused by strikes in Calais.

Preparations have been taking place since last year on the motorway as part of the government's Operation Brock plan, which is due to replace Operation Stack in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

It will manage traffic to the continent differently, in that lorries will park on the M20 coastbound while traffic passes in both directions on the London-bound carriageway.

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