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Operation Brock will be ready for Brexit

By Paul Francis

County councillors have been told the scheme for a contraflow on the M20 in the event of disruption and delays caused by Brexit will be ready in time.

Highways officials say the contingency plan - dubbed Operation Brock - will be implemented if necessary on March 29 and work on preparing the contraflow will be carried out two days before that deadline.

The scheme involves a London-bound contraflow on the M20 between Ashford and Maidstone.

Project Brock on M20 Ashford.Picture: Andy Jones
Project Brock on M20 Ashford.Picture: Andy Jones

Preparations for the scheme mean the motorway will be closed overnight tonight to install emergency access gates between Junction 7 and Junction 9.

County councillors raised questions about why Operation Stack was triggered last week rather than Operation Brock.

A combination of bad weather and customs delays at Calais as French border officials took industrial action saw Operation Stack put in place for the first time since 2015.

Opposition parties at KCC questioned at a cabinet scrutiny committee meeting today why Operation Brock was not put in place

Cllr Rob Bird, the Liberal Democrat opposition leader, said: “The real issue is that Highways England was not in position to roll out Operation Brock. I was aware that the Secretary of State said it should have been available 48 hours before.”

Operation Stack
Operation Stack

Labour councillor Barry Lewis said: “If there is more disruption or bad weather, will Operation Stack be put in place or Operation Brock?”

Cllr Mike Whiting, KCC cabinet member for highways, said the infrastructure for Operation Brock was “in place”.

“It is ready to be called upon by Monday 25 and will be ready to be put in place by Friday 29. This will be the default position should there be disruption.”

The contraflow scheme is designed to keep traffic moving rather than closing the M20 entirely. Lorries will be held along the coast-bound M20 in the event of delays. If disruption is prolonged, then lorries may be diverted to the Manston airport site where there is extra capacity for up to 6,000 HGVs.

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 Ashford

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