Earlier this month Highways England was asked to clarify the statement on their website to the effect that Junction 8 of the M20 would be closed when Phase 3 of Operation Brock is reached which is when the M20 between Hollingbourne and Ashford will be used for storing 2000 lorries awaiting Customs at Dover and Eurotunnel. Highways England have previously stated that there will be no facilities for the drivers although media reports suggest they could be there for as long as two days.
Although the statement on the Highways England website has not changed so far, it is not to be taken literally. The website reads as follows:-
https://highwaysengland.co.uk/OperationBrock/#under7.5Junction 8 The relevant extract is as follows with the key words marked in red :
Junction 8 of the M20 will be closed. Operation Brock officials will confirm you’re travelling to Eurotunnel and guide you to enter the M20 junction 8-9 goods vehicle area on the coastbound carriageway. You’ll be held at lights until space at the Eurotunnel becomes available.
Perhaps a better wording might have been:
The Operation Brock access point on the M20 coast bound near to Junction 8 will close while Junction 8 will remain open to other traffic.
A spokesman for Highways England sent the following message:
“As part of the design of Operation Brock, the coast-bound entry slip road at the M20 junction 8 would be closed when the contraflow is in operation.
“This means that people wanting to the join the M20 from junction 8 heading for the ports, when the contraflow is in place, would need to join the London-bound carriageway to junction 7 where they would then join the coastbound carriageway and enter the contraflow.
“The Maidstone Roadchef services at junction 8 and Leeds Castle would be open as normal.”
Drivers with vehicles under the 7.5 tonne weight limit wishing to travel coastbound on the M20 will still be able to do so, but will need to join the London-bound carriageway to jct 7 where they would then join the coastbound carriageway and enter the contraflow.
This means that drivers wishing to go coastbound will have several minutes added to their journey because they will have to go back up the M20 to Junction 7 before coming back again. Local media reports suggest that the 50 mph speed limit in the contraflow system between Junctions 8 and 9 add 10 minutes to each journey when road is clear. Unfortunately the contraflow lanes are narrow with no refuges and frequent incidents mean that the A20 is often pressed into service which can cause traffic problems locally.
Junction 8 is used by thousands of commuters each day from all over Mid Kent as the access point for the M20. It is also the Junction for Leeds Castle which attracts 600,000 visitors a year and employs over 300 mainly local people.
Currently almost a quarter of the UK’s trade in goods pass through the narrow Hollingbourne transport corridor on the way to and from the EU via the M20, A20, and by rail. After passing through Operation Brock at Hollingbourne lorry drivers are expected to get their paperwork checked at one of the pop up Customs posts which include the Ashford Truck Stop, Folkestone 24, and Dover Docks. . Others are at Ebbsfleet and Manston. Lorries arriving at Eurotunnel or Dover without the correct paperwork will be fined £300. Operation Brock starts on 21st October.
Pictured below is the contraflow system in March 2019.