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Part of M26 could be used to hold lorries after Brexit

A 10-mile stretch of the M26 could be used as a holding area for hundreds of lorries under government measures to cope with a Doomsday Brexit scenario.

The proposal is one of several under consideration as part of the government's wider strategy to deal with potential gridlock if no deal is agreed by next March.

The idea of closing the M26 is likely to horrify council chiefs and MPs, particularly as it could be implemented on top of using a stretch of the M20 to hold lorries near Dover and Folkestone.

Operation Stack brought travel chaos to Kent
Operation Stack brought travel chaos to Kent

However, those plans for the M20 are also under fire.

Auditors have warned that “considerable work needs to be done” on the £20 million plan designed to keep traffic moving after Britain leaves the EU.

The contingency plan - dubbed Operation Brock - involves a plan to use a contra-flow along a stretch of the M20 should there be disruption at the Port of Dover and Calais port or Eurotunnel.

The contra-flow system has not yet been implemented and has faced criticism from KCC, who said it risked “massive disruption” on a similar scale to Operation Stack.

A Government spokesman said: "We're not going to get into speculation - we are planning for a range of scenarios, as any responsible government would.

"It is important to stress that this is contingency planning for a scenario that we do not expect to happen" - government spokesman

"It is important to stress that this is contingency planning for a scenario that we do not expect to happen - the most likely outcome is that we get a negotiated deal, and that is what we are focused on.

"The Government's priority is to ensure there is frictionless trade to keep businesses thriving and drivers on the move."

Operation Stack has not been implemented since 2015.

Officials say part of the reason is increased capacity for vehicles at the Port of Dover as well as Dover Traffic Assessment Project (TAP), which limits the number of vehicles travelling to the port to ensure a better flow of traffic through the town.

They also point out the last time Operation Stack was utilised was as a result of migrant activity, blockades and poor weather, not because of checks.

Authorities have also retained the potential use of Manston Airfield to hold lorries before onward journeys to the continent.

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