Monday, October 14, 2019

Back to Brock as UK Government Prepares for Brexit Delays and Puts the Onus on Drivers

Once Again the Parking Solution on Kent Motorway Surfaces - This Time with Traffic Wardens
Shipping News Feature

UK – The government has announced that Operation Brock will go live on 28 October in a bid to manage any traffic disruption and help keep trade moving in and out of the UK, in the event that the UK leaves the EU with no deal. The government says that it has worked closely with the Kent Resilience Forum to implement the scheme, which is intended to cope with any delays to Europe-bound freight while protecting local roads from bottlenecks and the like.

The traffic management scheme will keep the M20 open in both directions for all other traffic, minimising any impacts on local residents, businesses and public services. Whether road haulage operators, or indeed the general public will consider this as ‘management’ is far from certain.

Hauliers driving during Operation Brock and heading to Europe via the Port of Dover or Eurotunnel will need to be on the Operation Brock routes and follow all diversions, instructions and speed restrictions rather than relying on satellite navigation systems. They will also need to be ready to show that they have the right paperwork before reaching the border to avoid being turned back, or else risk facing fines and further delays.

The Department for Transport says that new legislation will help keep haulage vehicles on main routes through Kent and away from local roads, reducing the impact of any disruption on local communities. Traffic officers in Kent will also have new and enhanced powers from 31 October to help ensure hauliers are complying with the Operation Brock system. So that’s all right then.

Final works in the coming weeks will ensure that the holding areas are ready to be activated on October 28 as Operation Brock goes live. If the UK leaves the EU as planned on October 21 truckers will presumably just have a week to wait for the scheme to swing into action and resolve all the nasty problems. Cynics will say that the total ineffectiveness of the British government to solve the free trade issue in almost three years might cast a doubt on why anyone should think this scheme should be necessary, let alone be a good solution.

This timing means that from 26-27 October there will be overnight closures on the M20 between junctions 7 and 9, so that final preparations can be carried out safely. Policy Manager for South East England at Freight Transport Association (FTA), Heidi Skinner, said:

“Any move which keeps traffic flowing to and from the coast, and through and around Kent, is to be welcomed in order to keep Britain trading. Our members have been asking for clarity on the arrangements for some time, so this news will help them to prepare for a potential no deal Brexit and any resulting traffic disruption which may occur.”

Once Operation Brock goes live on Monday 28 October, lorries heading for mainland Europe will need to use the coast bound carriageway of the M20 between junctions 8 and 9, with a 30mph speed limit in place. All other traffic will run on the London-bound carriageway between these junctions, with two lanes in each direction operating at 50mph.

In addition, Highways England is apparently fast-tracking work to ensure that key slip roads at a new junction being created on the M20 near Ashford will be open to traffic by the 31 October. This comes as the Department for Transport launches a targeted information campaign to ensure hauliers know what to expect if they are travelling to the Port of Dover or Eurotunnel in a no-deal Brexit scenario. Transport Minister Chris Heaton-Harris, said:

“We want residents in Kent and hauliers travelling from across the EU to be reassured that there are robust plans in place to deal with any disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit. We now need everyone to do their bit, whether you are travelling to see family, heading to work or transporting vital goods around the country, please check before you travel to ensure you know what to expect and have the right documents when heading to the border.”

So that’s it folks. Whether you are a haulier trying to do the job that keeps food on the table for all, or a guy taking his kids out for the day, this is all down to you. When the minister says ‘robust plans’, he presumably means you are likely to get parked up somewhere if there is a problem and fined using those ‘enhanced powers’ if you make a mistake. Whether the government in its wisdom has arrange sustenance or even toilet facilities on the routes concerned remains to be seen. The odds however are not good.

Could be worse folks, they might have left Chris Grayling in post.

Photo: It seems drivers may be in for a long wait.