No-deal Brexit traffic jam test: Kent airfield turns lorry parking lot

Leroy Wright
January 8, 2019

In the first significant test for border disruption, the UK Department for Transport's (DfT) experiment, named "Operation Brock", saw almost 100 lorries from the disused Manston Airport, in Kent, on a 20-mile journey to Dover - Europe's busiest roll-on roll-off ferry port - at around 8am, the Evening Standard reports.

MP Charlie Elphicke criticised the idea as almost 100 lorries descended on Manston Airport near Ramsgate in Kent to test out using the runway as an HGV holding bay to prevent traffic jams on roads to Channel ports.

Mr Bone said constituents are telling their MPs to "get on with it", adding: "There was no question that I remember on the referendum about a deal or not".

Dover MP Charlie Elphicke rejected the use of the Manston airfield as a holding area to ease potential congestion, saying it should only be considered as "a last resort". "At this late stage it looks like window dressing".

"The objective of it was to look at the times that it takes to get to various points on this stage and the information that we got today is sufficient to do that".

But Toby Howe, from Kent County Council, said: "What we're learning from this is not based on 1,000 lorries or whatever".

"Most people seem to say that's not what they want to see, well they better make up their minds before we get to a week on Tuesday because that's going to be a very key decision-making point".

The Government's no-deal Brexit lorry test was branded a pointless farce by critics after fewer than 100 lorries turned up - but officials insisted it was worthwhile.

The trial, called Operation Brock, saw lorries directed along the A256 towards Dover in a 20-mile journey which should take around half-an-hour.

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The first practice run began in rush-hour shortly after 08:00 GMT, with four convoys leaving at intervals between 08:13 and 08:39.

"Sending lorries across Kent on a wild goose chase to Manston airport and then to the port of Dover by small and winding, often single track "A roads" through Kent villages is not the right plan".

Lorry drivers who spoke to the BBC on arrival back at Manston after the first test said there had been "no problems whatsoever".

"Someone had to do it didn't they, really?" In its latest update to the end of November 2018, it said that 80 firms are considering or have confirmed relocating assets and staff.

Each driver participating in the exercise was paid £550, meaning the DfT shelled out a total of £48,950.

The trial was organised alongside the Road Haulage Association (RHA) and the Freight Transport Association.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has reiterated that a delayed parliamentary vote on her widely maligned Brexit deal will go ahead later this month and warned the United Kingdom would enter "uncharted territory" should it be rejected by MPs.

Signatories to the letter, led by Labour's Jack Dromey and former Conservative Environment Secretary Dame Caroline Spelman MP, said leaving the European Union without a deal would be damaging to jobs and industries in their constituencies and around the country, and urged the Government to "agree a mechanism" to ensure this could not happen.

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