Kent Online is today reporting that trial runs for Operation Brock will be held on Monday 7th January at 8am and 11am when a convoy of 100-150 lorries will drive from the former Manston Airport to the Port of Dover. Manston Airport will be used for storage for thousands of lorries awaiting Customs clearance if the UK leaves the Customs Union on 29th March 2019. The M26 motorway is also to be used as well as the M20 at Junction 8 in Hollingbourne to Junction 9 in Ashford which has been earmarked for the storage of 2000 lorries after Brexit. No trial run for the use of the M20 has been announced. The total number of lorries in the trial will amount to about 1% of the average daily cross Channel lorry traffic. It is understood that Manston will be only used once the M20 is full of lorries.
The full text of the report from Kent Online is at https://www.kentonline.co.uk/thanet/news/lorry-convoy-from-airport-to-test-post-brexit-plan-196359/
During Operation Stack in 2015 when there were delays in Calais the M20 from Hollingbourne to Ashford was used for storing lorries and this caused traffic problems in surrounding roads and affected many businesses. Just now around one sixth of the UK’s foreign trade goes via Dover and Eurotunnel and most of it comes through Hollingbourne on the M20. Some 11,000 lorries a day cross the Channel via Dover and 6,000 lorries a day use Eurotunnel while thousands of other vehicles use both the ferries and the tunnel.
The Government has also contracted with Seaborne Freight, a new ferry company who do not possess any ships, to run a ferry service from Ramsgate to Ostend from March which may reduce congestion around Dover. Ramsgate formerly had ferry services to Ostend with firstly the Sally Line and then Trans Europa Ferries but the last one sailed in 2013. The port facilities in Ramsgate are smaller than at Dover but it is hoped that Seaborne will eventually carry some 1350 lorries a day or about 8% of the current cross channel lorry traffic. The port is currently being dredged.
If the UK leaves the Customs Union it is anticipated that the average Customs clearance time will increase from an average of 2 minutes to over 20 minutes with some reports suggesting it could be hours. This will cause delays and major traffic queues throughout Kent and Kent County Council has indicated that parking will have to found for over 10,000 vehicles.
During Operation Stack in 2015 the supply of drinking water, food, and toilet facilities to stranded drivers was a major problem and just now there are no signs that facilities will be provided alongside the M20. Kent County Council and Kent Police provided some services which were funded by the people of Kent.
Pictured below is the M20 at Hollingbourne showing preparation work in 2018 for Operation Brock with the left hand or coastbound side of the M20 to be used for lorry storage while the other side will be used for a 13 mile contraflow system. At the time of writing the temporary barrier has been removed but it is expected to be reinstated to keep the contraflow vehicles separated. The narrowness of the contraflow lanes caused accidents.