1. ITV Report

No-deal Brexit: Operation Brock contraflow to be removed on M20

Work to dismantle the 15-mile contraflow system on the M20 in Kent, put in place as part of Operation Brock, will begin on Monday.

The system was implemented in March 2019 to prevent severe delays on the motorway, which is the key freight route to and from Dover, in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Credit: ITV News Meridian

But it was announced that the steel barrier, between Junction 8 for Maidstone and Junction 9 at Ashford, would be removed because the risk of a no-deal Brexit has lowered.

The decision was made by Highways England, the Kent Resilience Forum and the Department for Transport.

It cost £35 million to put in place, which includes the design, construction, testing, activation and deactivation of the system.

We understand the constraints that Highways England had and it was obviously an opportunity to look to see how traffic management could flow differently. But I think we've tested it enough now and we do really need to move forward and look at other options because we have to keep freight moving. It's vitally important, not just for Kent, but for the rest of the UK."

– Heidi Skinner, Freight Transport Association

Meanwhile, the cost of commissioning extra ferries and preparing the Manston Airport site as a potential lorry park means the total spend on no-deal Brexit planning in Kent has reached £123 million.

the total cost of no-deal Brexit planning in Kent

I'm sure this will be welcomed by people driving in that part of Kent and by local residents. In fact, I think if this had gone on much longer there would have been incomprehension and considerable frustration for residents."

– Councillor Roger Gough, Kent County Council, Con

The M20 will be fully closed in both directions between Junction 7 and 9 from 8pm on Monday 13th January until 6am on Tuesday 14th January.

Then from 8pm on Tuesday 14th January, the London-bound carriageway of the motorway will be closed between Junction 7 and 9 until 6am every night for a further 15 nights.

For full details of the closures click here.

of barrier will be removed every night during the closures
Credit: ITV News Meridian

Removing the Operation Brock barrier is good news for drivers and the people of Kent and reflects the decreased risk of disruption to cross-channel services in the coming months.

"Operation Brock has provided people living, working and travelling in and around Kent with a scalable set of measures to help limit the impact to the county in the event of disruption to services across the English Channel.

"We are grateful for people’s patience while the barrier has been in place, and are looking forward to restoring the motorway to full capacity."

– Nicky Potts, Project Director, Highways England

ITV News Meridian has approached the Government for comment about the cost of Brexit preparations in Kent, but no-one has been available for comment.