A group of Kent MPs met with Roads Minister Jesse Norman in the House of Commons this week to discuss keeping Kent's roads moving post Brexit.
Highways England presented to the meeting on Operation Brock, the temporary alternative to Operation Stack which should be ready for use from early next year. Under these plans a contra flow will be introduced on the M20 to allow traffic to continue to move in both directions whilst queuing Lorries are parked on the coast bound carriageway. The plans also include exploring the possibility for increased capacity for 4000 Lorry parking spaces at Manston airport and provisions for queuing Lorries temporarily on the M26 motorway.
Highways England officials also made clear that their quest for a permanent alternative to Operation Stack continues. Responses to the public information exercise, which took place over the summer, are currently being analysed and specific options are set to be tabled over the winter months. The final proposal is however not planned to be ready until 2023.
During the meeting, all practical options to improve the resilience of Kent's roads to allow them to cope with delays at the Port of Dover were considered. For example, consideration is being given to whether it is conceivable to hold Lorries outside the County of Kent. The meeting also discussed the possibility of making increased use of alternative Ports such as Sheerness and Ramsgate on the UK side and Zeebrugge and Dieppe on the continental side of the channel.
After the meeting, the Minister committed to continuing to engage with Kent MPs as the Department for Transport develop their plans for Brexit and beyond, with a further meeting earmarked for very early next year.
Helen Grant Member of Parliament for Maidstone and the Weald, who attended the meeting said, 'This was a productive meeting and I am grateful to the Minister for his candid approach. It is clear that we have to be prepared for the prospect of a delay at the border.
This is not just about whether, as I hope will be the case, we secure a Brexit deal which ensures smooth customs borders with the EU, but also about the prospect of disruption caused by unexpected events in Calais, as was the case in 2015.
In the event of further disruption at the border, we will need a suite of contingency options at our finger tips to keep Kent moving and I am pleased that the Government are willing to consider all available practical solutions.
This is not only in the interests of businesses up and down and the UK but also, more importantly, will allow the people of Kent to go about their daily lives as normal.
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