The patience and understanding of Kent residents and motorists is being recognised ahead of the planned removal of the Operation Brock contraflow on the M20 motorway.
Highways England staff are due to remove the barrier between Junctions 9 and 8 London-bound over the weekend of Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 April 2021, marking a return to business as usual following a successful traffic management operation that kept the county moving following the end of the EU transition period.
The contraflow was initially activated in late December 2020 following the unexpected closure of the French border, and remained in place after it was reopened to ensure any traffic disruption resulting from changes to customs rules was kept to a minimum.
Kent Resilience Forum partners have monitored traffic levels closely over the last several months and are confident the new processes for HGV drivers no longer pose a substantial risk of causing significant traffic disruption on the county’s road network. The decision coincides with the announcement made by the Department for Transport today that hauliers will also no longer require a Kent Access Permit to travel through the county.
The Operation Brock barrier will continue to be stored on the hard shoulder should it be required again in the future.
‘Time is right’
Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Faulconbridge of Kent Police, who is also the Chair of the Kent Resilience Forum, said: “With freight volumes back to normal, customs rules better understood and Covid-19 testing sites now well-established across the UK, the time is right for the Operation Brock contraflow to be removed.
“I would like to thank the people of Kent for their patience and understanding whilst the barrier has been in place.
“It is however important to note that the barrier will remain on the hard shoulder and can be activated again in the future if necessary. Alongside our partners we will continue to monitor traffic levels closely over the weeks and months to come, including during an expected increase when tourists are once again allowed to access Kent’s ports, to ensure any emerging issues are suitably addressed.”
Nicola Bell, Highways England Regional Director, said: “We are grateful for people’s patience while the moveable barrier has been in place and are looking forward to restoring the motorway to full capacity.
“The barrier enabled the steady flow of freight into Eurotunnel and Port of Dover, and ensured the continued movement of goods and services across the country with minimal fuss at a critical time. It will remain stored along the M20 and can be deployed at short notice if there is any future Channel port disruption.
“The last four months have not been without their challenges and I would like to pay testament to the hundreds of workers across the Kent Resilience Forum who have worked – and continue to work – around the clock to ensure that traffic continues to move smoothly through Kent.”
‘Keep Kent moving’
Kent County Council’s senior highways manager Toby Howe said: “Operation Brock was a key part of our traffic management plan to keep Kent moving in the weeks immediately after the end of the EU transition period. It worked well and got the job done.
“Despite the added challenge of Covid-testing hauliers, the much-anticipated disruption did not materialise thanks in part to the robust planning of the Kent Resilience Forum and hundreds of thousands of lorries have travelled via Brock through the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel since January – playing a vital role in keeping goods flowing and our supermarket shelves stocked.
“Of course we know there is no room for complacency in our efforts to keep the county’s roads clear as the UK emerges from lockdown. We’ll be watching traffic levels closely as shops and services continue opening up and we head towards the eventual return of international travel. We remain well prepared to do all we can to help everyone – hauliers and tourists alike – drive safely in Kent this summer.”