Dry run of Operation Brock planned for next week.

The Guardian is today reporting that Highways England plan a dry run of Operation Brock next week in anticipation of a “no deal” Brexit at 11pm on 29th March when the UK could leave the EU Customs Union. Although Hollingbourne Parish Council has not been informed of this development it is assumed that the dry run will start on Monday 25th March with the coastbound side of the M20 between Junction 8 in Hollingbourne and Junction 9 in Ashford being used exclusively for lorries heading towards Dover and Eurotunnel. The London bound side will be used as a contraflow system and steel barriers have already been installed to create two lanes in both directions 

The full report is at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/mar/20/uks-emergency-plans-for-no-deal-brexit-begin-to-be-put-into-action

The Guardian is also reporting that Kent County Council met  today at 10am at County Hall in Maidstone to discuss the impact of Brexit in the Garden of England on traffic and essential services such as schools, hospitals, waste collections, and even morgues. It is understood that Kent Police have received a Government grant of £3.5 million to cover any extra policing costs if there is a “no deal” Brexit next week. Kent Online has a report at https://www.kentonline.co.uk/kent/news/kent-is-ready-for-brexit-disruption-201230/

At the time of writing the precise date of Brexit is unclear but over a thousand constituents of local MP Mrs Helen Whately, Member for Faversham and Mid Kent have already signed a public petition that was started yesterday to ask Parliament to revoke Article 50 and to stop Brexit. More details are at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/241584

Although Mrs Whately was original a Remainer she is now supporting Mrs May’s Brexit deal. More information about the deal and Mrs Whately’s Brexit voting record are at http://www.hollingbournepc.kentparishes.gov.uk/local-mps-voting-record-on-brexit/

Hopefully the Operation Brock dry run will have no impact on traffic moving in and out of Hollingbourne but earlier this month during Operation Stack which was caused by Storm Gareth affecting Channel crossings, there were problems in Eyhorne Street. However during Operation Stack all coastbound traffic was diverted on to the A20 while with Operation Brock all non lorry traffic will use the two outside lanes of the London bound side of the M20 for the 13 mile section to Ashford. As there are now no hard shoulder facilities on the London bound side of the M20 and because the lanes may be considered narrow, any incidents may require the subsequent use of the A20 which could cause traffic problems along the A20/M20 transport corridor including Hollingbourne. The original hard shoulder on the London bound side has been strengthened so it can be used for traffic.

Pictured below (top) is the M20 with the steel barrier in place ready for Operation Brock and (bottom) is traffic held in Eyhorne Street because of Operation Stack. 

The view towards Ashford with the lorry storage area on the left – March 2019. It is understood that no facilities will be provided by the Highways Agency for the 2000 lorry drivers who will be held on this section of the M20.
Traffic in Eyhorne Street caused by Operation Stack in March 2019. There were similar problems in 2015 when Operation Stack ran for over a month due to industrial action in Calais.