Severe traffic disruption has yet to materialise in Kent since the end of the EU transition period and members of the Kent Resilience Forum (KRF) are working hard to ensure it stays that way.
Hundreds of people from partners including Highways England, Kent County Council, Kent Police, the Department for Transport and other Government departments and agencies have been working around the clock to help EU-bound HGV drivers enjoy as smooth a journey to the county’s ports as possible.
The KRF has spent more than two years planning for the UK’s withdrawal from the single market and the potential disruption it could bring, with the sudden requirement for a negative Covid-19 test to travel to France adding an extra level of complexity to what was already an intricate traffic management plan.
Facts and figures
The following figures help to demonstrate the scale of the operation to date:
- Around 200,000 Covid-19 tests on HGV drivers have been carried out in Kent in preparation for cross-Channel journeys. HGV drivers are being encouraged to get tested outside of Kent to avoid delays, at one of the many information and advice sites located across the UK. Click here for a full list.
- More than 6,000 lorries a day are now leaving the county via Kent ports – back to normal expected levels.
- More than 200,000 freight movements across both ports during January, including both import and export traffic.
- Police officers from 27 different forces have been supporting Kent Police via mutual aid and helping to keep the flow of traffic moving.
- Approximately 6,000 traffic cones, 600 traffic management signs and more than 120 other items of road furniture including CCTV cameras and lights have been installed by Highways England. The Operation Brock moveable barrier itself is 19.8km long and consists of 19,563 individual blocks.
- Whilst the vast majority of HGV drivers have taken their rest breaks in appropriate and legal parking areas, Kent County Council enforcement officers have had to clamp around 690 vehicles to ensure local roads are kept free of any obstructions.
Assistant Chief Constable Claire Nix of Kent Police, who is also the Chair of the Kent Resilience Forum, said:
“Whilst it is pleasing that we have not yet experienced any significant issues on Kent’s roads and that the Operation Brock traffic management system developed by Highways England is working well, we are continuing to closely monitor daily traffic levels so any problems that may emerge can be quickly addressed.
“We are also aware that the roads are currently quieter than usual due to the national Covid-19 lockdown, and that disruption in the future remains a distinct possibility. We therefore cannot afford to be complacent.
“I would like to thank the vast majority of hauliers and HGV drivers who are obtaining a valid Kent Access Permit before entering the county, and encourage them to continue to do so to help ensure as smooth a journey as possible through the ports. I would also like to remind them that they should continue to take a Covid-19 test at one of the many information and advice sites located across the county before they travel to Kent.”
Roger Gough, Leader of Kent County Council, thanked partners for their continued cooperation. He said:
“After all the uncertainty and change around leaving the EU, the fact that Kent has kept moving has been both a relief for local communities and a welcomed endorsement for our pre-Brexit planning.
“While the ports initially experienced lighter freight flows than normal, Kent Resilience Forum partners have still had to overcome a number of challenges.
“Whether it be responding to the latest Covid travel requirements and increasing testing facilities, accommodating drivers who test positive, or enforcing new regulations, I am proud to say Kent Police, Highways England, KCC, the Department of Transport, the military, our local councils and others working within the KRF, have risen to them all, together.
“Of course, it is early days, and with freight numbers continuing to reach near normal seasonal averages, the KRF remains ready to roll out more traffic management measures to keep the county’s roads moving should they be needed.
“In turn, I urge more heavy goods drivers to follow colleagues who get their access permits and negative Covid tests before coming to Kent. These two actions alone will continue to help cut the risk of congestion on routes to Dover and Folkestone.”
Nicola Bell, Highways England regional director, said:
“The last few months have not been without their challenges and I would like to pay testament to everyone who has worked – and continues to work – so hard on these arrangements for traffic management in Kent.
“The moveable barrier on the M20 is working well, enabling the steady flow of freight into Eurotunnel and the Port of Dover and ensuring motorists across the county can get to where they need to be with the minimum fuss, whatever the circumstances. I would urge hauliers to continue to follow the signs on the M20, using Brock for Eurotunnel and Manston for Port of Dover.”
HGV drivers can apply for a Kent Access Permit here
They can also click here for a full list of the information and advice sites around the UK where they can get their export documents checked and receive a free Covid-19 test.