The UK government’s Department of Transport is trialling an emergency traffic congestion system named Operation Brock that could be used in Dover in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
79 lorry drivers began their journey from the disused Manston airport, north of Ramsgate port, to Dover before returning. They started at 7am and are due to return for a second test run at 11am. A lane on the southbound carriageway of the A256 has also been closed off for tests.
“This is designed to test what happens if and when there is no deal and Operation Brock is implemented,” a government spokesperson said.
Kent country council, which has warned of major issues with backed-up traffic due to border checks, is participating in the trial. The government had hoped for 150 lorries but this target was not met.
Duncan Buchanan, policy director of the Road Haulage Association, said the trial was necessary but should have taken place nine months ago. The RHA also described the test as “window dressing” that would not reflect the reality of 6,000 lorries.
In an appearance on talkRADIO, RHA managing director Rod McKenzie said of a no-deal Brexit: “Ninety-eight per cent of everything we have, including the stuff in the shops, the stuff we get from factories to make things and all the other lovely stuff will get stranded somewhere else, and our supply chain will break.
“We’ve been telling politicians this for some time, not in the sense of being doom-mongers, or Project Fear or anything like that. I call it Project Reality.”
A very limited number of lorries may be able to apply for an ECMT permit to continue making journeys through the EU in the event of no deal.
The Department of Transport has also made a controversial deal to implement a new ferry route between Ramsgate and Ostend, Belgium.