The Highways Agency has confirmed that no loos or any other facilities may be provided to the up to 2000 lorry drivers who will be parked on the M20 coastbound side between Hollingbourne and Ashford during Operation Brock which will become operational if and when the UK leaves the UK Customs Union as part of Brexit. Kent has been asked to find spaces for storing over 10,000 lorries awaiting Customs at Dover and Eurotunnel if the UK leaves the EU Customs Union on 29th March 2019 because the Customs clearance time will increase from an average of 2 minutes to 20-30minutes which will cause major traffic problems for the County.
Apart from using the M20 locally, Manston Airport, and the M26 are to be used to store lorries. At the present time some over 10,000 lorries cross the Channel via Dover each day with another 6,000 going through Eurotunnel with most passing through Hollingbourne on the M20 or A20. These lorries carry some 30% of the UK’s international trade in goods.
During Operation Stack in 2015 when the M20 was used to store vehicles because of problems at Calais, Kent County Council provided “portaloos” and even Tesco offered a delivery service to stranded drivers. Local Councils and others also provided drinking water. The total cost of the services provided and the final clear up of rubbish from the verges cost Kent Council tax-payers hundreds of thousands of pounds which the Government failed to reimburse.
S. Kane, Programme Support Officer, Special Projects, Highways England | Bridge House | 1 Walnut Tree Close | Guildford | Surrey | GU1 4LZ writes:
It is anticipated that goods vehicles will be continually moving and not within the M20J8-9 section for long periods. Therefore it would be unnecessary and unsafe to provide facilities for good vehicle drivers. They will also be advised to take a break before entering this section – as many would anyway as part of their normal practice at one of the many services on the network. If, however, for any reason, vehicles do remain in this section for lengthy periods, then the Kent Resilience Forum that has overall responsibility of Operation Brock will make the necessary arrangements to provide any required facilities.
With regard to the emergency access to the London bound side which will be used for traffic going in both directions over the 13 mile section which will have the central reservation on one side and no hard shoulder on the other, S. Kane writes:
A response plan has been developed in conjunction with emergency services. To assist with accessing incidents there is an enhanced level of Highways England/ Police resources and various additional access points are available between M20 junctions 8 and 9.
Last year when the London bound side was reduced to two lanes with no hard shoulder during preparatory works there were a number of accidents when vehicles climbed the then temporary barrier which resulted in major traffic problems for hours as vehicles were diverted on to the A20 and elsewhere.
It appears that any problems on the M20 may have to be handled by the Kent Resilience Forum which is a group made of Kent Police, Kent Fire and Rescue Service, and some local Councils. The website of the Forum is http://www.kentprepared.org.uk/
Pictured below (top) is the M20 at Hollingbourne during Operation Stack in 2015 when KCC provided loos and other facilities and (Bottom) is the M20 with the Operation Brock barrier under construction in February 2019.