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Logistics UK calls for a permanent solution to Operation Brock as half-term traffic increases congestion through the UK’s Channel ports, highlighting the impact on logistics and the need for government support

With half term traffic set to increase travel times and congestion through the UK’s Channel ports this weekend, business group Logistics UK is urging government to identify and implement a permanent alternative to its Operation Brock traffic management scheme.

Originally developed as a traffic management scheme in the event of a No Deal Brexit, Operation Brock is the contraflow system set up to keep traffic on the M20 and surrounding roads in Kent moving in the event of disruption to travel across the English Channel. The M20 is set to be closed overnight on 22 May to enable the deployment of the scheme which will be in place until 3 June to manage the anticipated Bank Holiday surge in vehicles, at a cost of thousands of pounds to Kent taxpayers. However, as Nichola Mallon, Logistics UK’s Head of Trade explains, this will once again have an impact on those trying to keep goods moving to and from GB and Europe.

“For the past seven years, since the Brexit vote, the logistics industry has been subjected to delays caused by the deployment of Operation Brock, yet a permanent solution to the plan has yet to be found. While held in the queues along the M20, drivers have no access to refreshments or toilet facilities often for hours on end – a situation which would not be tolerated by workers in offices, factories or any other setting. This is not an acceptable situation.

“Logistics workers were deemed ‘essential’ to the UK’s economy during the pandemic, but they are being failed every time Brock is deployed.  And with the new Entry and Exit System set to be implemented by the EU in October this year at the juxtaposed borders at the Short Straits, Operation Brock looks set to become a permanent feature.”

About 30% of all the food consumed in the UK comes from the EU, according to the British Retail Consortium, including almost half of the fresh vegetables and the majority of fresh fruit sold in this country. And that percentage can rise significantly if domestic supplies run short in the event of bad weather in the UK, such as prolonged periods of heavy rain.

“As an island, Britain is dependent on imports of fresh produce at key times of the year, and those providing these deliveries and carrying UK exports to the EU deserve to spend their legally mandated breaks away from their vehicles to get sufficient rest. A permanent solution for Operation Brock is needed, and fast, before hauliers decide not to fulfil contracts to deliver to the UK. As Logistics UK has been saying for some time, logistics operators need the support of government to ensure that the UK’s borders do not become a barrier to the movement of goods.”

Logistics UK is one of the UK’s leading business groups, representing logistics businesses which are vital to keeping the UK trading, and more than seven million people directly employed in the making, selling and moving of goods. With decarbonisation, Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK plc. Logistics UK supports, shapes and stands up for safe and efficient logistics, and is the only business group which represents the whole industry, with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers whose businesses depend on the efficient movement of goods. For more information about the organisation and its work, please visit logistics.org.uk

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