The Department for Transport has announced a new version of its ‘Operation Stack’ plan that is set to be implemented from the beginning of 2019 in order to keep traffic moving through Kent in the event of ‘disruption’ at Channel ports. 

The new plan is the first sight of government putting countermeasures in place to deal with the effects of Brexit – experts have been warning for months that the government risks huge delays at ports such as Dover and Ramsgate when Brexit takes effect next March.

The plan will use a contraflow on the M20 to keep non-HGV traffic moving between junctions eight and nine, rather than forcing drivers on to local roads. Lorries will be kept in managed traffic jams and funnelled through to holding car parks when spaces free up. 

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A public consultation on a permanent solution to Operation Stack, led by Highways England, will be launched shortly. This will include asking residents, businesses and the freight industry whether they would rather see an on-road solution or an off-road lorry park.

Highways England also says that it will start work soon on improving the northbound hard shoulder of the M20, to enable its plan for two-way traffic to be contained within one carriageway when Operation Stack is in effect. 

Roads Minister Jesse Norman said: ‘We’ve seen the severe disruption that people in Kent had to face in 2015 when there were hold-ups across the Channel.

‘This interim plan will help to minimise that disruption and mean people will be able to go about their everyday lives, seeing friends and family or going to work, as well as businesses being able to get to their customers.’