December 2020 response 

Emergency response to border closure

In response to an outbreak of a new variant of the coronavirus in the UK, December 2020, France closed its borders with the UK and several countries requiring HGV drivers to have a negative Covid test before returning from the UK to Europe. This led to major emergency and significant traffic disruption on Kent's road networks.

 

As a result KRF partners had to rapidly adjust and implement its traffic management plans, while setting up Covid testing sites and delivering welfare to stranded drivers.

 

Response

 

The emergency Operation Stack was briefly activated by Kent Police overnight Sunday 20 December, with EU-bound freight held at the former airfield in Manston. This was replaced by the Highways England-led Operation Brock, part of the traffic management plan designed to keep traffic moving on the M20, on 21 December 2020.

 

Setting up testing sites

In tandem, KRF partners working together with government and Army personnel, quickly transformed Manston into a testing site for Port of Dover-bound traffic.  Dover freight was sent to the former airfield via the M2/A2 corridor and down the A299 Thanet Way. Meanwhile, drivers heading to Eurotunnel, who needed a test and checks, were sent along the M20 to Sevington Inland Border Facility, near Ashford. 

 

Standing down the traffic management response

Due to a combination of planning, the national Covid-19 lockdown, good levels of HGV driver compliance and lower than expected freight levels at the start of the year, severe disruption immediately following the UK’s departure from the EU did not materialise. 

 

Manston stood down as testing site

As a result of a UK-French agreement that HGV drivers who spend less than 48 hours in Britain no longer need a negative Covid-19 test result, Manston was stood down as a testing and checking centre for hauliers from the 21 March 2021. As the original Operation Fennel plan intended, Port of Dover-bound traffic requiring any testing and checks  is managed at Sevington.

Removing Brock contraflow and Kent Access Permits

Kent Resilience Forum KRF partners continued to monitor traffic levels closely. When they were confident the new processes for HGV drivers no longer posed a substantial risk of causing significant traffic disruption on the county’s road network the decision has now been made to remove of the Operation Brock contraflow on the M20 motorway. The decision coincided with the announcement made by the Department for Transport today that hauliers no longer required a Kent Access Permit to travel through the county. Read more about the changes  on the gov.uk website. 

  • Learn more about the KRF decision on the our news page

Highways England removed the the barrier between Junctions 9 and 8 London-bound over the weekend of Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 April 2021, marking a return to business as usual following a successful traffic management operation that kept the county moving following the end of the EU transition period.