Last reviewed 1 June 2021

The Department for Transport (DfT) is proposing to update the legislation underpinning Operation Brock — the traffic management contingency plans used in the event of significant disruption at the Short Straits crossings in Kent.

It is proposed to remove: provisions relating to the end of the EU Exit transition period and Covid-19 that are no longer needed; as well as ‘sunset clauses’ that mean the legislation will expire on 31 October 2021.

Full details of the public consultation into these changes can be found at www.gov.uk/government/consultations/operation-brock-removing-sunset-clauses-and-provisions-for-eu-exit-and-covid-19-pandemic-from-existing-traffic-management-legislation and the deadline for submitting comments is 20 June 2021.

Operation Brock is part of a set of multi-agency response plans managed by the Kent Resilience Forum (KRF) to keep traffic moving on the M20 during periods of severe cross-Channel disruption, caused by events such as industrial action or severe weather.

If activated, it operates on a temporary basis to limit traffic delays through a carefully managed route and queuing system. Other KRF plans also address the welfare requirements of lorry drivers and, if the circumstances are severe, passenger traffic, too.

The Operation Brock legislation was first put in place in 2019 in preparation for a potential no-deal departure from the EU, updated in 2020 in preparation for the end of the EU transition period, and again in 2021 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The current legislation, which expires on 31 October 2021, includes provisions requiring heavy commercial vehicles (HCVs) (any goods vehicle that has an operating weight exceeding 7.5 tonnes) heading for Dover and the Channel Tunnel (the Short Straits) to proceed only by designated routes and enables penalties to be applied to any vehicles breaching those requirements.

The DfT points out that, by removing these clauses, Operation Brock can be used in future when there is disruption at the Short Straits (for example, from bad weather).