There were supposed to be 150 vehicles taking part in the Government’s test of what happens with regard to preventing queuing lorries blocking the road to Dover if there is no deal with the EU by Brexit day — but in the event, only 89 turned up.

Under Operation Brock, 13 miles of the coast-bound M20, between junction eight near Maidstone and junction nine near Ashford, would be earmarked to hold 2000 lorries.

With far more vehicles expected to be delayed if there is no deal agreed with the UK before 29 March 2019, however, Brock has been extended to incorporate the disused Manston Airport, near Ramsgate, as a huge lorry park — holding up to 4000 trucks.

The 89 lorries taking part in the trial eventually drove the 20-mile route to the Port of Dover although, as one driver interviewed on BBC radio said, the result was a stately procession — nothing like the situation that would prevail if the airport was actually put into proper use.

Road Haulage Association (RHA) Chief Executive Richard Burnett was equally unimpressed, suggesting that all that had been achieved was that some 80 truck drivers now knew what to do in the event of lengthy, local traffic queues between Manston and Dover.

“Today’s trial cannot possibly duplicate the reality of 4000 trucks being held at Manston Airport in the event of a no-deal Brexit,” he went on. “It’s too little too late — this process should have started nine months ago. At this late stage it looks like window dressing.”

However, Kent County Council said that the numbers involved were not important.

The Department for Transport (DfT) wanted to know how quickly the vehicles could get out of the airport and get to various points on their way to the Channel, it said, and the trial had served its purpose.

Each driver taking part in the exercise was paid £550.

Last reviewed 9 January 2019