EU exit in Kent
The United Kingdom (UK) left the European Union (EU), following the Brexit transition period which ended on 31 December 2020. New rules on trade, travel and business for the UK and the EU are now in place.
Information about the changes can be found on the gov.uk website: Brexit: new rules are here
To ensure Kent was prepared for any disruption caused by new border arrangements at the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel, Kent Resilience Forum (KRF) partners - including Kent Police, Kent County Council (KCC) and Highways England - worked together with government to devise an escalating series of traffic management plans known as Operation Fennel.
Learn more about the KRF plans here: Preparing Kent for the end of the Brexit transition period
In response to December 2020’s French border closure and several countries requiring HGV drivers to have a negative Covid test before returning from the UK to Europe, plans had to be rapidly adjusted. 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 Fennel plan designed to keep traffic moving on the M20, on 21 December 2020.
Read more about the arrangements that were put in place on the gov.uk website here: Operation Brock to be deployed in Kent tonight
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.
Visit the Kent Police website to learn more about the KRF response to December disruption
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.
Read more on our news page about how the Kent Resilience Forum worked together to minimise traffic disruption.
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 that requires any testing and checks, will go through Sevington.
Find out more on our news page about the suspension of haulier services at Manston
Traffic management measures in Kent to cease
Kent Resilience Forum KRF partners have monitored traffic levels closely over the last several months and are confident the new processes for HGV drivers no longer pose a substantial risk of causing significant traffic disruption on the county’s road network and the decision has now been made to remove of the Operation Brock contraflow on the M20 motorway.
Learn more about the KRF decision on the our news page
Highways England staff are due to remove 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.
The Operation Brock barrier will continue to be stored on the hard shoulder should it be required again in the future.
Visit Highways England website to find out more about the changes to Operation Brock
The decision coincides with the announcement made by the Department for Transport today that hauliers will also no longer require a Kent Access Permit to travel through the county. Read more about the changes on the gov.uk website.
Hauliers and other commercial drivers crossing the Channel need documentation and may require a negative Covid test for some countries. Visit the DfT website, or an advice site at a motorway services or truckstop, for more information.
Get a coronavirus (COVID-19) test if you’re an HGV or van driver
You must take a coronavirus (COVID-19) test before you leave the UK for some countries – check which countries require them and how to get a free test on the gov.uk website.
COVID-19 testing for hauliers after entering England
From April 6, hauliers arriving in England from abroad will need to take a COVID-19 test if they are staying for more than 2 days. They need to take the first test within the first 2 days, then further tests every 3 days.
This will apply to drivers and crews of HGVs and drivers of vans and other light goods vehicles. It applies to both UK-based and non-UK hauliers. Find out more on the gov.uk website.
Local and passenger travel
Before you plan to travel check for the latest covid travel restrictions and guidance.
For up-to-date travel information and advice check the following Twitter accounts:
Kent County Council Twitter: @Kent_cc
Kent County Council Highways Twitter: @KentHighways
Highways England South East Twitter: @highwaysseast
Port of Dover Twitter: @PoD_travelnews
Eurotunnel Twitter: @Leshuttle
Medway Council Twitter: @medway_council
If you need to travel in Kent, visit Kent County Council’s Brexit Hub for further advice on how to check your route and prepare.
For overseas travel advice, visit gov.uk
Driver welfare plans
The KRF has tried and tested multi-agency plans in place to respond to driver welfare issues on Kent’s roads.
Kent County Council (KCC) coordinates the contributions of numerous, diverse organisations - from the Salvation Army and South East Water, to aid organisations, supermarkets and businesses - on behalf of the KRF, to ensure drivers caught up in severe disruption have access to emergency supplies of food and water.
Just like other local resilience forums and local authorities across the country, the KRF - and KCC - have a long tradition of working with voluntary organisations. Charities have strong community networks, access to a range of resources and dedicated staff. For all these reasons, they are an integral part of Kent’s emergency response capacity, including the KRF Driver Welfare Plan. This welfare is delivered directly to drivers by a range of KRF partners whose staff are highly experienced at working on the road network. This includes the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Kent Search & Rescue and South East 4x4.
When severe disruption is ongoing, and local resources are stretched to maximum, there are plans in place for securing central government assistance, including from the Army.
In addition, in the event of severe disruption only the KRF has options plans in place to deploy and regularly clean toilets between Junctions 8-9 on the M20 once traffic has been stationary for a significant period.
Prepare for queues
Hauliers coming to Kent ports should be border ready and prepared for queues. This includes having food, full drinking water tanks or bottled water, blankets, and any essential medication on board.
There are welfare facilities for heavy goods drivers at government-managed Inland Border sites across the county. There are also dedicated lorry parks at the following Kent locations and we encourage HGV drivers to make use of these facilities to purchase food and water:
Maidstone Services (M20 J8)
Medway Services (M2 between J4 and J5)
Stop 24 – Channel Ports Truck Stop – M20 J11 (post code CT21 4BL)
Ashford International Truck Stop – Waterbrook Avenue, Ashford (post code TN24 0GB)
Dover Truck Park – Menzies Road, Port Zone, Whitfield. Dover (post code CT16 2HQ)
We understand people will want to help drivers caught up in disruption, but we urge everyone not to put themselves at risk by breaking the law and going onto the motorway. Even if traffic is slow-moving or stationary, the motorway is a dangerous place but our partner organisations are trained, and have the equipment, to work on the road network.
For information and advice on trading with the EU visit Kent County Council’s Brexit Hub