Operation Brock to be removed as resilience forum thanks motorists for 'patience'

Tests are being carried on the M20 to see if it can cope with potential traffic problems, should there be a no deal Brexit.

A contraflow system installed in the M20 in Kent to deal with border disruption caused by Brexit is to be dismantled.

Operation Brock was designed in the run up to the UK's exit from the European Union to provide more space to park lorries in the event of blockages or delays at Channel ports.

It was unexpectedly deployed in December because of the French government shutting the border in response to the spread of the Kent variant of coronavirus.

But officials now say traffic has returned to normal and that other measures are sufficient to prevent travel disruption in the county.

  • What was Operation Brock?

Operation Brock is the name given to a contraflow system designed for the stretch of the M20 between J9 and J8.

It was initially devised as an alternative to Operation Stack, which was also devised to deal with disruption at the ports but requires large sections of the motorway to be shut.

Operation Brock used a moveable barrier to create space for lorry parking while still keeping the motorway open.

The barrier will be stored on the hard shoulder in case it is required in the future.

Concerns over the Kent variant of coronavirus caused huge queues over Christmas Credit: PA

The announcement comes on the same day that the government says hauliers will no longer need extra paperwork to enter Kent.

Kent Access Permits have been mandatory for EU-bound heavy goods vehicles entering Kent since January 1, following the end of the transition period.

The DfT said the scheme was “instrumental in avoiding delays at the border” by ensuring drivers had the correct documents before reaching Dover.

Compliance among non-British hauliers has been above 80% since mid-January.

Its removal will mean “less paperwork for hauliers”, the department added.

  • Freight volumes 'back to normal'

Highways England says it will be watching traffic levels "closely".

Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Faulconbridge of Kent Police, who chairs 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.”

She added: “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.”

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.”