Kent’s roads need to be ready for Brexit says local MP, Mrs Helen Whately. – UPDATED.

The following message has been received from Faversham and Kent MP Mrs Helen Whately and it especially relates to Hollingbourne as the M20 between Junction 8 and Junction 9 will be be used as a giant lorry park for vehicles awaiting Customs at Dover and Eurotunnel if Brexit actually happens and the UK leaves the EU Customs Union. During Operation Stack in 2015 delays on the M20 caused traffic problems across Kent and on the B2149/C603 through Hollingbourne.

Mrs Whately writes:

 Operation Stack brought Kent to a standstill in my very first summer as an MP and ever since then I’ve been determined that it should never happen again. 

I’ve been in regular contact with the Department for Transport and Highways England as they work on their solution to Stack. Roadworks have now begun to strengthen the hard shoulder of the M20, so that lorries can queue on the coast-bound carriageway while traffic can keep going in both directions on the London-bound section. The M26 is also being improved so it can be used as a lorry holding area – but I have been reassured this will only be used in a worst-case scenario. I know these roadworks have been a huge inconvenience, causing delays for drivers on the M20, and nighttime noise for people living along the A20. My postbag suggests fewer lorries are now going through Bearsted at night (though please let me know if you’re still having problems). The sooner this is over the better.

The Secretary of State has assured me that his priority is to keep traffic moving if there is any disruption at the border. These are contingency plans and I hope they never have to be used. I want the Government to get a deal that keeps freight moving freely across the border because that is in Europe’s interest as well as ours. But it’s responsible to plan ahead and make sure we’re prepared. 

The full text of her current newsletter about the M20 and other local issues is at https://www.helenwhately.org.uk/

Work has already started on turning the coastbound side of the M20 into a lorry park and it is anticipated that loos and other services will be provided alongside the carriageway. It is not clear who will pay for these facilities as the policing and other costs of Operation Stack in 2015 fell on Kent Council tax payers. Non-freight traffic will share the London bound carriageway which is being divided into two sets of narrow lanes with a barrier in the middle in the middle. Where the barrier has already been installed there have been frequent accidents causing tailbacks for several miles on occasions.

UPDATE as on 15th November : Mrs Whately asked the Prime Minister today in the House of Commons for an assurance that the Draft Plan for leaving the EU would not result in traffic jams around Dover and Eurotunnel and on other Kent roads. No clear assurance was received. The 585  page Draft Plan for leaving the EU can be viewed at  https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/draft_withdrawal_agreement_0.pdf

Pictured below is Mrs Helen Whately, the effect of Operation Stack on the M20, and the impact on Eyhorne Street in 2015.

Mrs Helen Whately MP – Faversham and Mid Kent – Conservative.
Operation Stack on the M20 in 2015 which ran for over 30 days because of delays at Calais.
Eyhorne Street traffic jam caused by Operation Stack in July 2015.