Highways England have confirmed that Operation Brock, when the coast bound side of the M20 between Junction 8 in Hollingbourne and Junction 9 in Ashford is used for parking thousands of vehicles, will be ready in time for Brexit in March 2019 when the UK may leave the Customs Union which will mean long delays at Dover. It is intended that the London bound carriageway will be used for traffic in both directions with the hard shoulder being used as an extra traffic lane. Parts of the hard shoulder are already being strengthened but just now no decision has been made about a safety barrier to separate the traffic going in both directions although speed will be limited to 50mph and a possible collision speed of 100mph. There will also be works at Junctions 8 and 9 to allow vehicles to cross the central reservation in order to get into the contraflow system.
If vehicles need to be parked simply because of delays on both sides of the Channel for reasons other than Customs delays after Brexit if the UK stays in the EU Customs Union, the Highways Agency has previously stated that two week’s notice will be required in order to close off the M20. In 2015 the M20 was similarly used for Operation Stack for over 30 days when there was industrial action in Calais and the closure of the M20 caused traffic chaos all over Kent. The Port of Dover has previously publicly stated that Customs clearance will increase from 2 minutes a vehicle to 20-30 minutes if the UK leaves the Customs Union (or have no other seamless Customs arrangement) which will cause miles of traffic jams assuming the present number of 10,000+ lorries continue to cross the Channel each day.
Operation Brock is seen as temporary measure and permanent alternatives are being sought in order to avoid the chaos of 2015 when Operation Stack brought the County to a near standstill and caused disruption to local businesses and others. The Highways Agency has been doing a series of public consultations across Kent with the last one today in County Hall in Maidstone. The consultation period ends at 11.59pm on 22nd July and more information is at https://highwaysengland.co.uk/projects/solutions-to-operation-stack-managing-freight-traffic-in-kent/
UPDATE as of 13th July – The Downs Mail has reported that a more permanent solution to the parking problem may be a 270 acre lorry park near Lenham which would be accesses by lorries leaving the M20 at Junction 8 in Hollingbourne and then using the A20. Please see https://www.downsmail.co.uk/news_sport/News/EXCLUSIVE_270_acre_Brexit_lorry_park_site_identified_near_Maidstone_village/
UPDATE as of 25th July – The Guardian has reported that the M26 will also be used a s lorry park after Brexit in addition to the M20 between Hollingbourne and Ashford.
You can also write to the Highways Agency at Freepost KENT LORRY AREA or telephone them at 0300 123 5000
Operation Brock may trigger compensation for local residents.
Traffic in Hollingbourne and many other communities was affected by Operation Stack in 2015 with regular traffic jams through Eyhorne Street. As Operation Brock is a major public works it may be possible for affected residents to obtain compensation under the terms of the Land Compensation Act 1973 which provided some compensation for Hollingbourne and other Kent Residents who were affected by the building of the M20 between Junctions 8 and and the HS1 through Hollingbourne. Local MP Mrs Helen Whately has been asked to investigate this and the Highways Agency to consider it as Operation Brock is likely to be an inconvenience to local residents. A general guide to the Act is at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/425148/M150005_Compensation_booklet_v3.pdf
A facsimile copy of the Act is at https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/engagement/bostonbarriertwao/results/b.24—land-compensation-act-1973.pdf
An official guide to the Act is at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1973/26/contents
At today’s public consultation in County Hall it was confirmed that the strengthening of the hard shoulder of the M20 would not include resurfacing the concrete motorway to reduce the surface noise by has long been promised by successive Governments. In 2007 Hollingbourne and Harrietsham Parish Councils met with the Highways Agency in London to discuss this but despite Government promises and the efforts of successive MP’s nothing has been done. Apparently the design life of the present surface lasts until 2031, although other sections have been micro-grooved to reduce the noise, nothing has happened around Hollingbourne. It is possible though that Operation Brock with half the M20 being used as a lorry park, and the other half with speed restrictions, that the surface noise may decrease.
Pictured below is the public consultation at County Hall today.
Pictured below (top) is a traffic jam in Hollingbourne in 2015 that was caused by Operation Stack and (Bottom) is the M20 at Hollingbourne.