Humanitarian concerns are raised for HGV drivers at ports in Kent

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Disruption at the Channel Ports led to the return of Operation Brock on the M20 and huge pressure across the road network in Kent.

Logistics UK is calling for an urgent review of Operation Brock, – a Kent traffic management system intended to keep vehicles moving when there is disruption to travel across the English Channel.

When Operation Brock is in place, HGV drivers must use the M20, not the M2 or A2, join Operation Brock at Junction 8 in Maidstone of the M20 and follow all signs and instructions. Failure to do so could cost significant time and fuel, as well as a potential fine of £300.

Heidi Skinner, Policy Manager – South at Logistics UK, said:

“Logistics UK is calling for an urgent review into the effectiveness of Operation Brock as a traffic management scheme, and most importantly, the humanitarian issues it raises as HGV drivers are left unable to access basic hygiene facilities, food, and drink; local residents are also left to cope with challenging road diversions and disruption. 

“HGV drivers accessing the Short Straits (the quickest way to get from the UK to the European Continent) have to use the set route to join the queuing system and must stop to use facilities before they get too far along the route, as, once their vehicles enter the queuing system, these drivers have no access to any facilities at all, including toilets. 

“HGV drivers must be given access to basic welfare facilities while in long queues; this review is needed urgently, and we must consider how our HGV drivers can be better provided for when there are delays in accessing our ports in Kent.

Highway bosses confirmed that the Operation Brock contraflow would stay in place until at least after the May Day bank holiday, with regular reviews of the situation from May 3rd.

Kent Resilience Forum (KRF) warns restrictions could continue into May because cross-Channel capacity is down by a third since the suspension of P&O services.

Heidi Skinner of Logistics UK agrees that ferry capacity is key:

“We need to see a rapid reinstatement of full ferry capacity; this has been the key contributing factor to the traffic queues, along with ferries that were out of action due to damage, bad weather and increased friction at the border caused by the UK’s departure from the EU.”