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Op Stack returns to the M20

Operation Stack has been stood down on the M20 this afternoon.

Police are advising motorists to "plan their journeys carefully" as there may be delays while the road network returns to normal.

Junctions 9 to 11 reopened this morning, with junctions 8 to 9 finally opening at 3pm.

The scene on the M20 near Sandyhurst Lane
The scene on the M20 near Sandyhurst Lane
Police at the closure on the M20
Police at the closure on the M20

Due to further action at Calais, DFDS Seaways has cancelled its sailings to Calais until Tuesday, July 28. It will continue to run services to Dunkerque and customers will be accommodated on this service.

A spokesman for Port of Dover, said: "The Port of Dover is open for business and P&O Ferries continues to operate a full service to Calais. We apologise for any inconvenience caused by situations totally beyond our control."

The most recent restrictions were only taken off last weekend following days of misery for freight drivers and general motorway users.

Even before the measures were implemented, there was already a queue of lorries from J11a to Dover - around eight miles.

Now Kent MPs have taken part in discussions with Kent County Council, the police, representatives from Eurotunnel and the Port of Dover and hauliers over emergency proposals to halt the gridlock caused by Operation Stack.

At a meeting at County Hall, plans to introduce a contraflow lane on the London-bound carriageway during Op Stack were raised. Highways England is looking into the idea, and could implement it "within days".

Operation Stack is where parts of the M20 are used to queue lorries travelling towards the continent, to avoid causing gridlock across Kent's road network.

Freight within Operation Stack is separated into two queues on either side of the carriageway, one for tunnel traffic and one for port traffic.

Space is left in the middle of the motorway to allow for emergency vehicles.

The build up of traffic on the A20, between Orchard Heights and the Hare and Hounds pub
The build up of traffic on the A20, between Orchard Heights and the Hare and Hounds pub

Queues are released each time a ferry or train is due to depart to ensure the most amount of freight can continue to their destination in Europe.

A spokesman for the Port of Dover said the county experienced a "perfect storm" of conditions, which led to Stack.

This included a build-up of freight traffic mid-week, the recent industrial disputes, the fact that the former MyFerryLink ferries have been blocking up berths in Calais, and the recent disruption to DFDS Seaways services as contributing factors.

Eurotunnel users have also faced delays.

Police on the M20 at Sandyhurst Lane
Police on the M20 at Sandyhurst Lane

Freight had to wait up to an hour and a half at Folkestone on Friday, after an earlier incident on the terminal.

Passengers were waiting up to an hour, with only those with reserved tickets able to travel.

John Keefe, Eurotunnel's group director of public affairs, said the firm was facing a nightly battle to stop migrants getting through and trying to get onto trains.

He said he couldn't see a time when it was going to stop, unless government action was taken.

P&O Ferries passengers also experienced hold-ups of an hour and 20 minutes on journeys between Dover and Calais due to earlier industrial action.

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