M20 from Junction 8 to 9 to store 2,000 lorries after Brexit under KCC emergency plans. – UPDATED.

Kent County Council has today published their contingency plans for Brexit if the UK leaves the EU Customs Union and Single Market on 29th March 2019. These include permanent parking facilities for 10,000 lorries awaiting Customs Clearance at Dover and Eurotunnel with 2,000 being parked on the M20 between Hollingbourne and Ashford as part of Operation Brock. On the basis that 5000 lorries a day leave Dover for France plus around 2500 go via Eurotunnel, it appears that Kent County Council expect trucks to have to queue for just over 24 hours before being processed at Dover or Eurotunnel Customs. It is expected that the parking of these lorries will create traffic difficulties on other roads as well as a demand for catering, washing, and loo facilities.

The contingency plans will be discussed by Kent County Council on 13th December at County Hall in Maidstone. The section relating to transport which may be particularly relevant to Hollingbourne is reproduced below:

3. Transport

3.1 As the statutory Highways Authority, KCC is responsible for maintaining all roads within its administrative boundary, except the motorways and major (trunk) roads which are managed by Highways England.
3.2 Work to date has mainly focused on the likely impact on traffic congestion arising from changes at the border, based on an understanding of the capacity of Kent’s ports and roads. It has been forecast that, in a no-deal Brexit scenario, Kent will need to cope with holding up to 10,000 HGVs on a routine basis. The potential impact upon passenger traffic is also being assessed.

3.3 Such congestion could exceed that of previous incidents experienced in Kent, including Operation Stack in 2015, which resulted in almost 7,000 HGVs contained on the M20 in Kent. Local Kent roads experienced significant gridlock and exceptionally high traffic volumes as a result. In 2016, due to weekend industrial action, the county saw significant delays at the UK border across all vehicle types (tourist and freight) and queues quickly formed across both strategic and local road networks, with delays of over twelve hours experienced.

3.4 Kent Police and partners use emergency powers contained in the Civil Contingency Act 2004 when deploying Operation Stack to regulate traffic. The Act enables the Police to apply to the Secretary of State to make emergency Regulations for up to 30 days at a time.

3.5 Through the Kent Resilience Forum, KCC Highways and partners have devised a dedicated ‘Freight Traffic Management Plan’, which contains various mitigations to maintain freight fluidity in the event of a no-deal Brexit. This has been possible due to the joint learning across all partners who dealt with the 2015 Operation Stack event and utilises the ‘Operational Fennel’ multi-agency group, consisting of Highways England, Kent Police, KCC Highways and other key stakeholders, set-up as a result. Work remains ongoing to finalise this operational plan. These plans will be completed by the end of December and a walk-through test will be carried out in January 2019.

BROCK STAGE
1 2 3 4 5 Includes Use of Port of Dover and Eurotunnel Buffer Zones* Use of A20 TAP M20 Junction 8-9 contraflow Dover traffic to Manston Dover A245 TAP M26 (last resort) Concerns remain that the implementation model with Highways remains unclear and untested Hold freight outside of Kent
Freight capacity
Buffer Zones – 1200 A20 TAP – 550
M20 J8-9 – 2000
Manston – 50006000 A256 TAP – 300800
M26 – 2000
* Phase 1 capacity includes increased capacity at Port of Dover and Eurotunnel since Operation Stack. Traffic Management Plan subject to revision post testing. 3.6 In summary, the Brexit Freight Traffic Management Plan will be broken down into five phases, as outlined in the diagram and table above. During routine operations all freight for Eurotunnel and Port of Dover uses M20 and A20. Should the situation at either Port of Dover and Eurotunnel change and their buffer zones become full, Operational Fennel proposes:

The full 17 page document is at  Brexit-Preparedness-Kent-County-Council-Update.pdf (1 download)

Other issues mentioned in the document include the possibility of interruptions to essential services such as hospitals, refuse collection, education and social care because of the likely traffic issues as well as the threat of a surge in illegal immigrants including many unaccompanied children due a change in immigration rules.

UPDATE on 7th December – A statement by Councillor Paul Carter on the contingency plans is at https://kccmediahub.net/kcc-leader-brexit-preparedness745?utm Subsequent to the publication of statement Mr Carter has been interviewed by BBC Radio 4 and reports have appeared elsewhere in the media. He has expressed concern that Brexit may cause traffic issues in the general area between Maidstone and Dover and will cost Kent Council tax-payers substantial amounts of money.

UPDATE on 13th December – KCC voted 54 to 11 against accepting the report that suggested that leaving the EU would have an “unacceptable impact on Kent”. A full report is at https://www.kentonline.co.uk/kent/news/councillors-deny-unacceptable-impact-on-no-deal-brexit-195362/

Operation Brock includes the use of the coast bound carriageway of the M20 from Hollingbourne as a lorry parking facility while the London bound carriageway will have a contraflow system with a speed limit of 50mph. Where the carriageways have been narrowed in preparation for Operation Brock on the 13 mile section of the M20, there has been an increase in the number of accidents due to vehicles hitting the central reservation or the newly installed barriers.

Pictured  below is Operation Stack in 2015 which went on for over 30 days because of problems in Calais and which created traffic problems across Kent. At times traffic tailed back from the M20 (top) and A20 into Eyhorne Street (bottom). In 2015 the costs of Operation Stack including extra policing were borne by the Council tax-payers of Kent.

Operation Stack at Hollingbourne in June 2015.
Eyhorne Street traffic jam caused by Operation Stack in July 2015.