Emergency powers to control lorry queues in Dover post-Brexit are being made permanent, signalling continued disruption is expected – and people are unimpressed.
Operation Brock, a traffic management system designed to cope with queues of up to 13,000 lorries heading for mainland Europe, has been extended indefinitely, even though it was meant to end by October 2021, after being extended once when the Brexit transition period ended in December 2020.
The measures involve a series of concrete barriers, allowing lorries to be held on one side of the M20 to access the Port of Dover, while other traffic continues to flow in both directions via a restricted narrow lane contraflow system on the other side of the road.
They were introduced in Kent amid fears that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU could lead to disruption for cross-Channel trade.
The government’s consultation response said removing the sunset clauses would provide the Kent Resilience Forum with “the ability to respond to circumstances appropriately and swiftly, minimising any disruption”.
“The Operation Brock response plans will continue to be for temporary use and only implemented if strictly necessary to minimise traffic congestion in Kent caused by disruption at the Short Straits,” it said.
It highlighted possible uses as a “contingency traffic management measure for disruption, caused by, for example, bad weather or industrial action” in future.
But reacting to it, people were not pleased with the quiet announcement:
Feel sorry for those voted Remain living in Kent. The Emergency Brexit Power to turn on lorry queue overflow is now… https://t.co/maBXw9ItG6