Hollingbourne residents living on the Ashford Road opposite to the Park Gate Inn have complained to Hollingbourne Parish Council about the night time disturbance caused by Highways England as they prepare the London bound carriageway for Operation Brock. Work has been going on through the night and local residents and their pets and other animals have been disturbed by the noise of machinery and floodlights.
The matter was raised at today’s Hollingbourne Parish Council meeting and regrettably only sympathy could be offered as the Parish Council has no power to control Highways England. It is understood that the affected residents have been in touch with local MP’s , Mrs Helen Whatling and Mr Tom Tugendhat whose constituents are similarly affected by work on the M26 for Operation Brock. They have also contacted the Right Honourable Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport to complain about the disturbance and suggestions that the works go beyond the previously agreed limits of the M20.
This section of the M20 was supposed to have been resurfaced with tarmac in 2007 in order to reduce surface noise but this has not happened. It is possible that residents may eventually receive compensation under the terms of the Land Compensation Act 1973 as Operation Brock is a “public works”.
Operation Brock is part of a scheme to store 10,000 lorries awaiting Customs clearance at Dover and Eurotunnel if the UK leaves the EU Customs Union and Single Market on 29th March 2019 which is Brexit day. Unless an agreement is reached to ensure the continued seamless transport of goods through Dover Eurotunnel, and other ports, it is estimated that the present Customs transit time of around 2 minutes will increase to 20-30 minutes which will leave to massive tailbacks and in the case of Kent lasting over 24 hours. This assumes that the present level of traffic continues.
In order to accommodate this scenario, the M20 between Hollingbourne and Ashford coastbound is being turned into a massive lorry park while the London bound side is to become a contraflow system with two lanes in each direction. The overnight work is designed to strengthen the hard shoulder so that it can be used for traffic. Where the work has already been completed on the 13 mile section of the M20 there has been a significant increase in accidents due to the narrowness of the lanes which in turn has created congestion on roads around the M20.
Pictured below is the start of work in September 2018 on the M20 for Operation Brock after Brexit with no deal to stay in the Customs Union.