A combination of factors heightening the risk of disruption on Kent’s roads will keep Operation Brock in place on the M20 at least until the end of Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday, the Kent Resilience Forum (KRF) partnership said this week (Tuesday, 17 May).
Ongoing reduced ferry capacity at the Port of Dover, the upcoming school half-term break and Jubilee celebrations will all keep Kent’s cross-Channel routes busy over the next few weeks.
Retaining traffic controls on the motorway for now is the best option to help keep Kent open for business, and communities protected from the worst of any potential significant disruption, partners agreed at the latest multi-agency Brock review.
Under current plans, the decision means National Highways will remove the M20 controls that manage the flow freight heading to Europe overnight Sunday, 5 June. The step will enable works to permanently relocate the moveable barrier at the heart of the Brock road layout to the central reservation to re-start.
While Irish Ferries has added another vessel to its Dover fleet and P&O ferries have resumed a reduced service out of the port, the company’s remaining two ferries are still out of action and facing safety checks and sea trials before coming back online.
Cross-Channel routes are also set for a particularly busy final week of May as the half-term getaway over Friday and Saturday 27-28th combines with large numbers of football fans heading to Paris for the UEFA Champions League final.
Supporters hoping to travel to the match but who haven’t yet booked, should speak to their chosen operator in advance of travelling to ensure that space is available.
Local and tourist traffic is also expected to be busy over the four-day Jubilee celebration marking The Queen’s 70 years of service to the nation, from Thursday 2 to Sunday 5 June.
Not yet in a position to remove the scheme
Kent Resilience Forum Strategic Planning Lead, Simon Jones, said: “The frequency with which we are currently having to use traffic controls on the M20 to manage EU-bound freight shows we are not yet in a position to remove the scheme – and the next busy holiday period is just around the corner.
“We are very aware of the impacts of border disruption on Kent and our priority is to ensure the county keeps moving, staycationers enjoy our many attractions and residents can go about their daily lives. Thanks to everyone for their continued patience.”
Nicola Bell, National Highways Regional Director, South East, said: “While the risk of major disruption remains, keeping current arrangements in place on the M20 is our best option for helping people get to their destinations and reducing the worst impacts of congestion on local communities and businesses.
“We know this decision will be frustrating for many and KRF partners remain committed to removing the motorway controls as soon as the data shows we can.”
As always, while Brock is in place, EU freight heading for the ports must continue to use the M20, enter the coastbound carriageway at Junction 8 and follow directions. People driving in or through Kent should also keep checking their route before travelling, know where service stations are for taking breaks, and allow more time for their journeys.
Ongoing weekend works on the M2 remain under continual review.
For where to find the latest traffic updates in Kent, and for general safe travel tips #Every Single Journey, including packing vehicles with essentials, including something to drink and eat and any regular medicines, in case of delays, visit: Check before you travel – Kent County Council
For further information about Operation Brock visit: nationalhighways.co.uk/travel-updates/operation-brock/