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M20 to close again as Operation Brock shutdown starts

Highway officials have been spotted removing cones and signs on the M20, signalling the end of the short-lived Operation Brock instalment less than two days after it started.

Highways England have confirmed the news, and say the motorway will shut once again between 8pm tonight and 6am tomorrow.

The closure will affect the motorway from Junction 7 (Maidstone) and Junction 9 (Ashford).

The traffic management scheme only came into effect yesterday morning, ahead of the expected Brexit deadline of Thursday October 31.

Highways England are set to the task of removing the traffic system. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Highways England are set to the task of removing the traffic system. Picture: Barry Goodwin

Only a matter of hours later, it was announced that the UK and EU had agreed a three-month extension of negotiations, effectively rendering the operation pointless.

The contraflow system on the M20 between Ashford and Maidstone was designed in preparation for disruption to services on the English Channel in the event of a no-Deal Brexit.

It would see the Londonbound carriageway used for traffic from both directions together with a 50mph speed limit, leaving the coastbound stretch for lorries.

The work to set the system up- which included the laying of 7,500 traffic cones and 350 signs- took place over the weekend and overran, opening at 7.45am yesterday.

The late opening meant that motorists faced long delays both on the M20 and surrounding routes.

There are 7,500 cones and 350 signs for the officers to remove. Picture: Barry Goodwin
There are 7,500 cones and 350 signs for the officers to remove. Picture: Barry Goodwin

A Highways England spokesman said: "Work to deactivate Operation Brock – and remove a contraflow - on the M20 in Kent will be carried out later today.

"The deactivation reflects the decreased risk of disruption to services across the English Channel in coming days and weeks.

"Tomorrow morning there will be three lanes on the coastbound M20 operating at national speed limit and two narrow lanes Londonbound at 50mph. This means Operation Brock can be activated again quickly if it is needed in the coming months.

"To make the changes the M20 will be closed to coastbound traffic between junctions 7 for Maidstone and 9 for Ashford from 8pm tonight until 6am tomorrow.

"A clearly signed diversion will direct traffic via the A249 and the M2."

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