Brexit: Preventing another Operation Stack & Operation Brock

On the 23rd June 2016, 51.9% of the people of the United Kingdom voted in favour of leaving the EU. Now with Brexit just one hundred and eight days away, the Prime Minister Theresa May is in a bit of a pickle to put it mildly.

Meanwhile, many agencies have been getting on quietly in the background to prevent a mess in the event we get a no Brexit deal; which remains a possibility. As this wonderful Australian makes clear prior preparation prevents piss poor performance.

The people responsible for ensuring we do not get any piss poor performance and another Operation Stack; which paralysed Kent last time around and brought the county to a standstill, is the Kent Resilence Forum

The have 108 days to accomplish this and are working with limited information and limited money, as Cllr Paul Carter Leader of KCC has called for a further £20 million to prevent another Operation Stack in the event of a no deal Brexit.

The Kent Resilience Forum, KCC Highways and partners have devised a dedicated ‘Freight Traffic Management Plan’, which contains various mitigations to maintain freight fluidity in the event of a no-deal Brexit. This has been made possible due to the joint learning across all partners who dealt with the 2015 Operation Stack event and utilises the ‘Operational Fennel’ multi-agency group, consisting of Highways England, Kent Police, KCC Highways and other key stakeholders, set-up as a result. Work remains ongoing to finalise this operational plan. These plans will be completed by the end of December and a walk-through test will be carried out in January 2019. And the map looks like this.

To summarise the map or the Brexit Freight Traffic Management Plan or Operation Brock as it will be known, will be broken down into five phases, as outlined in the diagram and table below.

During routine operations all freight for Eurotunnel and Port of Dover uses M20 and A20. Should the situation at either Port of Dover and Eurotunnel change and their buffer zones become full, Operational Fennel proposes:

  • 1) A20 TAP will be initiated storing Port of Dover freight (Stage 1) once the Port of Dover buffer zone is full;

  • 2) When A20 TAP is reaching capacity, Eurotunnel and Port of Dover freight will be split at M20 junction 7 – Eurotunnel freight will be stored in Brock M20 (Stage 2), Port of Dover freight will be diverted to Manston and A256 TAP (Stage 3);

  • 3) If Eurotunnel freight capacity is greater than Brock M20, then Brock M26 would be used to hold additional Eurotunnel freight, with Port of Dover freight using A2/M2 (Stage 4).

  • 4) Government continue to develop plans to support Stage 5.

Kent is dependent on, and awaiting details of, the Government’s ‘National Freight Plan’ (Brock Stage 5) – including plans for priority passenger freight, and the ‘National Ports Strategy’. The Kent Resilence Forum is continuing to encourage Government to develop measures to hold traffic outside of Kent. Arrangements for holding freight outside of the county, or at source, when Kent no longer has capacity is another crucial element of the plans.

Now not everything is in the hands of the Kent Resilence Forum and its members. It is now necessary for  the Government to take specific decisions. These include:

  • Confirmation of the contract with Manston Airport to increase capacity and allow improved ingress and egress.

  • Confirmation that NATS radar at Manston can be turned off. If not, this would reduce Manston capacity by circa. 1,000 lorries.

  • Confirmation that Driver Hours Relaxation will be implemented.

  • Implementation of cross-ticketing arrangements for Eurotunnel, P&O and DFDS.

KCC also requires Government to provide further information and advice on:

  • Modelling for both freight and passenger traffic.

  • Confirmation of progress on Port of Ramsgate, local dredging and potential use by other operators.

  • Confirmation of national communications and coordination plan including cooperation with DfT, COBR, freight groups and road traffic groups.

As we understand there will be a trial of Operation Brock in early to mid January with up to a maximum of 200 lorries involved, according to sources from the Road Haulage Association. Letters have been sent out to a number of firms requesting their involvement.

There is still away to go to prevent another Operation Stack which might paralyse Kent. If this does happen then the lack of prior preparation will no doubt be down to the piss poor performance of our Prime Minister and NOT Kent Resilence Forum.

The Shepwayvox Team Journalism for the people NOT the Powerful

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2 Comments on Brexit: Preventing another Operation Stack & Operation Brock

  1. Interesting that they calculate the 8 mile stretch of the M26 is only capable of stacking 2000 lorries and it’s only to be used as a last resort because it’s untested – I suspect it’s more to do with the fact that the Sevenoaks MP is Sir Michael Fallon (many times a Conservative Minister, previous Deputy Chairman of the Conservatives etc, etc) and he cried loudly from the roof-tops when Highways England conducted their feasibility study for the M26!!

  2. The M26 east bound from the M25 to the M20 is about 15km of two lane highway with a minimal hard shoulder. I presume there is no intention of parking up lorries on the westbound lanes – imagine the fun of negotiating the turn around of lorries at that M25 junction!
    An articulated lorry is 16.5m long – there will be some with trailers and some ridged bodied vehicles but let’s say 16.5m with a safety space in front of each one so 18m for each space.
    2000 vehicles adds up to 36km of road lane. Split over two lanes that’s 18km of two lane motorway filled up – but wait, the M26 is only 15km long!
    Even worse there will be a need for emergency vehicles to thread their way through in case of fire or collision.
    Mmm perhaps they WILL have to use both carriageways of the M26 after all!

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