Operation Brock on the M20 between Junction 8 and Junction 9 started this morning at 6am as a dry run for the possible departure of the UK from the EU Customs Union after Brexit. If the UK leaves the Customs Union the clearance time at Dover and Eurotunnel for freight vehicles will increase from around 2 minutes to over 20 with the result that massive queues could develop on the M20 and the M20. As a consequence Kent has been asked to find parking spaces for over 10,000 lorries and the M20 at Hollingbourne, Manston Airport, and the M26 have been selected.
The coast bound side of the 13 mile stretch of the M20 from Hollingbourne to Ashford is now being used by freight vehicles while the London bound side has been turned into a contraflow system with a 50 mph speed limit. Traffic around Junction 8 appears to have been particularly heavy this morning and tailbacks have extended into Eyhorne Street but it is not possible to state that Operation Brock is responsible so far.
However there are concerns that traffic incidents in the contraflow system could result in vehicles being diverted on the A20 which lead to general traffic problems in the area which would affect most villages.
Operation Brock means that it is no longer possible to join the M20 coastbound at Junction 8 although the London bound side is not affected. In order to access the coastbound side it is necessary to go to Junctions 7 or 9 which may created extra traffic on local roads including the A20. It is still possible to leave the M20 at Junction 8 coastbound and drivers are advised to keep to the inside lane.
It is assumed that the new arrangements will continue up to and beyond Brexit and that the £26 million metal barrier of the London bound side will be removed is Brexit is cancelled. At the time of writing some 5.4 million people have signed an online petition to revoke Article 50 and to stop Brexit including over seven thousand in the Faversham and Mid Kent constituency which includes Hollingbourne. This is about ten times the number who have signed an online petition to leave the EU without a deal which would put the UK on WTO terms are mean that Operation Brock could run indefinitely.
Meanwhile Maidstone Borough Council has set up a Brexit advice page at https://www.maidstone.gov.uk/home/brexit-advice
Pictured below is the M20 coastbound, the M20 London bound, and some of the traffic on the B2149/C603 in Eyhorne Street trying to get on to the M20.