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Operation Brock contraflow on M20 to return between Ashford and Maidstone

Traffic misery on the M20 is set to return next month when Operation Brock is reactivated between Ashford and Maidstone.

Drivers faced three weeks of frustration earlier this year when the coastbound side of the motorway between Junctions 8 and 9 was used only by HGVs heading to Dover, with all other traffic restricted to a 50 mph contraflow system on the London-bound carriageway.

Operation Brock is set to return

Highways England lifted the restrictions in April when the Brexit deadline was pushed back until the end of October, but the steel barrier on the London-bound stretch has remained in place ever since and the contraflow will be reintroduced next month.

Although highways chiefs were unable to confirm this week when it will be reinstated, it is understood the contraflow could be operational from Monday, October 21 - 10 days before the Brexit deadline.

Cllr Bernard Heyes, chairman of the joint transportation board at Ashford Borough Council (ABC), said in a meeting last week how he understands the contraflow on the London-bound carriageway will return from October 21.

Operation Brock - which is Highways England's post-Brexit answer to Operation Stack - was branded unsafe by some earlier this year.

The contraflow is designed to tackle disruption caused by delays at the border, but drivers raised fears over the safety of the narrow lanes.

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ABC deputy leader Cllr Paul Bartlett said: "It is better than Operation Stack, but people will have the pain and aggravation again of going to and from Maidstone."

A Highways England spokesman said Operation Brock "will continue to be available if needed in the coming months".

He said: "We are committed to playing an active role in keeping the country moving, and the activation of Operation Brock earlier this year shows that we have robust plans for safely queuing lorries heading to the continent while keeping the M20 open in both directions."

The Operation Brock contraflow on the M20 is to return
The Operation Brock contraflow on the M20 is to return

Earlier this year, KentOnline revealed how hundreds of drivers of foreign-registered vehicles got away with speeding on the M20 contraflow.

Police said they did not pursue motorists from other countries who exceeded the temporary 50mph limit because officers were unable to identify them.

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