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Operation Stack could return to the M20 following the removal of Operation Brock barriers

Transport chiefs say they could revert to using Operation Stack to manage disruption on the M20 - but only as a last resort.

Highways England says it would rely on a series of measures to cope with delays caused by bad weather across the channel or industrial action - and that could mean implementing a version of Operation Stack.

Work to dismantle the motorway barriers from Operation Brock began on Monday. Picture: Andy Jones
Work to dismantle the motorway barriers from Operation Brock began on Monday. Picture: Andy Jones

It comes as Highways England continues to dismantle the controversial Operation Brock contra-flow along the M20 between Ashford and Maidstone.

The 15-mile stretch of the motorway was restricted to two lanes with a 50mph speed restriction since March, in preparation for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.

Highways England said a version of Operation Brock would continue to be made available.

However, given the time needed to implement the barrier, its potential use was limited.

In a statement, it said: “With the barrier removed it would take around four weeks to deploy it again, which will limit the circumstances where it would be an appropriate solution.”

KMTV reports on calls for contingency plans as Op Brock is being dismantled on the M20

Asked what measures would be taken in the event of disruption at the border or channel ports, it said: “The steel barrier forms just one part of the traffic management systems available to manage border disruption.

"There remains a range of measures in place to manage the flow of traffic including the new additional capacity at the ports, the use of Dover Tap on the A20. Operation Stack would only be used as a last resort.”

The scheme involves holding lorries on the M20 coast-bound at different points, with the second phase closing it to traffic between Maidstone and Ashford.

Up to 3,000 HGVs can be held on the motorway.

In 2015, it remained in place for 37 days,with the lockdown costing the economy an estimated £250m.

The cost of Operation Brock to date has been put at around £30m but that figure excludes the costs of taking it down.

Meanwhile, it is unclear if the Manston airport site in Thanet could play. Under Operation Brock, the Department for Transport retained it as a potential holding area for HGVs once capacity on the M20 was exhausted.

The government has paid several million pounds to the former and current owners to keep the site in standby.

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