As Operation Brock – a contraflow system designed to keep traffic in Kent moving when there is disruption to travel across the English Channel – once again caused delays to those travelling in Kent and across the UK border last weekend, business group Logistics UK is urging government to find a longer-term solution to protect the UK’s supply chain.
“While the implementation of Operation Brock can help the flow of traffic during peak periods, it disrupts the flow of vehicles – and goods – to and from the Continent and its implementation does not take into account the needs of drivers, who can be stuck in their cabs or cars for hours on end with no food or access to hygiene facilities,” says Nichola Mallon, Head of Trade and Devolved Policy at Logistics UK.
“Leaving vehicles idling at the side of the motorway causes delays and disruption to supply chains, increases operating costs for importers and exporters and will ultimately deter businesses from sending their vehicles to the UK,” she continues. “Our members need a long-term solution to crossing the UK’s borders which keeps freight moving freely, rather than the on again, off again Brock scheme: the constant uncertainty it causes creates unnecessary confusion and delays that are not helpful for the future competitiveness of UK trade.”
As Ms Mallon continues, part of the solution for improved cross-border flows could be found in infrastructure investment. “Road and rail improvements are crucial to help ease congestion heading from the Short Straits and government must act to reduce the economic harms caused by issues on critical parts of the network.
“Following the UK’s departure from the EU, every passport has to be checked. Despite the best efforts of the Port of Dover and Le Shuttle to keep transition times through the border down, these new checks are causing delays at peak passenger periods, and this is even before the new EU Entry and Exit Scheme is introduced next year. “To ensure that freight can move as seamlessly as possible to its final destination, we are urging government to engage with the EU to ensure opportunities for digitisation of documents can be maximised, so that checks can be completed away from the border, reducing the knock-on disruption and delays for goods consignments.
“It is of huge concern that the government has yet to set out a workable model for the Short Straits under its new Border Target Operating Model, which will introduce new controls on imports from October this year. Serious questions remain as to whether the Short Straits will be treated as a single point of entry, what charges the government might apply and whether drivers selected for any checks will have the flexibility to stop at either the Border Control Post on the M20 (Sevington) or the A2 (Bastion Point) depending on their route and destination.
“Logistics UK and its members have been pressing for a workable solution at the border since the UK left the EU: after years of talking, it is now time for government to take action to protect the UK’s highly interconnected supply chain.”
The Operation Brock traffic management scheme controls the flow of traffic into and out of the Port of Dover, and has an impact across Kent. When the scheme is in operation, HGVs are queued along the hard shoulder of the M20 until space is available for them in the Channel ports.