In what has been hailed as a “significant step towards normality on Kent’s roads” emergency planners say they are suspending services for EU-bound HGVs at the former Manston Airport site.
From Sunday, March 21, freight heading for the Port of Dover will no longer be directed to attend the site.
All HGVs coast-bound will instead access the Operation Brock traffic management system between Junctions 8 and 9 on the M20 coastbound carriageway, with one lane being used for Eurotunnel and the other for the Port of Dover.
Earlier this week, it emerged that there was a question mark over the use of Manston, with KCC disclosing that it had been told by DfT that no plans existed to renew the contract beyond June.
Assistant Chief Constable Claire Nix of Kent Police, who is also the chair of the Kent Resilience Forum, said: "Thanks to the hard work of all partners and those EU-bound motorists who have followed the requirements, there have been no significant traffic issues on Kent’s roads since the end of the EU transition period.”
“The suspension of services at the former Manston Airport site is the first major step in what we all hope will be an eventual return to business as usual, as it means HGV traffic bound for the Port of Dover will now be able to take a more direct route along the M20 with easier access to the full range of services that will be provided at the Sevington Inland Border Facility.”
"I would like to reassure residents that while these changes may result in some local traffic disruption in the short term, we will continue to closely monitor freight volumes..."
"It is however important to note that Manston can be stood up again at short notice if necessary, and that the site was only ever planned to be used as a holding area for lorries in extreme circumstances – as was the case following the closure of the French border last December.”
"The recent agreement between the UK and French governments that HGV drivers who spend less than 48 hours in the country no longer need a negative Covid-19 test result before entering France gave partners the opportunity to review the traffic management plan and agree that the suspension of services at Manston is a step in the right direction.
"I would like to reassure residents that while these changes may result in some local traffic disruption in the short term, we in the Kent Resilience Forum will continue to closely monitor freight volumes and remain committed to keeping Kent moving. I would also like to thank everyone for their patience as the country continues to adjust following the end of the EU transition period."
Any HGVs that attempt to take an alternative route outside of Brock risk enforcement action being taken against them.
HGV drivers who require a Covid-19 test before leaving the UK are strongly encouraged to take one before entering Kent in order to avoid delays. Any that arrive without one will now be directed to a single facility at Sevington, near Ashford.