The Department of Transport (DfT) has put a fleet of test trucks on to the roads of Kent in a war-games style exercise to stress-test UK roads ahead of a potential no-deal Brexit.
As part of the preparations for the event of a no-deal Brexit, the DfT has trialled an emergency traffic system that will be used to manage congestion in and around the Port of Dover.
In total, 89 trucks took part in the test, less than 1% of the haulage traffic to pass through Dover each day, which can be as high as 10,000 trucks every 24 hours.
Fears have mounted that a no-deal Brexit will lead to chaos in and around Dover, as imports from the EU would require border inspection checks not previously needed.
The test, code-named Operation Brock was conducted at a disused airfield in north Kent, once used to test the equipment for the famous Dambusters, which now stands empty.
Under the DfTs contingency plans, the airfield could be used as a holding facility for 6,000 lorries after Brexit.
The local MP for Dover Charlie Elphicke said on Twitter that use of the airfield “is not the answer.”
Routing lorries via Manston is not the answer. Far better to extend the tried and tested traffic management system on the A20 at Dover to Kent’s motorways. That way lorries can be effectively managed, got most speedily to the ports and all our motorways can be kept open 1/ https://t.co/vWS4OC4AVb— Charlie Elphicke (@CharlieElphicke) January 7, 2019
One of the drivers who took part in the test, which saw the trucks complete the 50km drive to Dover in just over an hour told The Guardian that the test was a “waste of time”.
“It’s a waste of time. They should have done it in rush-hour. You can see the traffic here is just average. This is not what it will be like in no-deal,” the driver said.
In a written statement to Parliament, transport secretary Chris Grayling said operating Dover and the Eurotunnel at maximum capacity was a “priority” for the government.
“A priority for government is to ensure that the Port of Dover and the Eurotunnel can continue to operate at the maximum possible capacity,” he said.
“The government is therefore working with both organisations and our French counterparts in Calais, Coquelles and Dunkirk so that any disruption or drop in throughput is managed effectively and mitigated.”
In October, major road works commenced after Grayling confirmed that the M26 will become a holding area for hundreds of lorries to enable traffic to move more freely on other roads.
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