Work has started on the M20 at Junction 8 in preparation for Operation Brock which will be activated after Brexit if the UK leaves the EU Customs Union in March 2019. The coastbound carriageway from Junction 8 at Hollingbourne to Junction 9 at Ashford will be used to store thousands of lorries awaiting customs clearance at Dover and Eurotunnel because the customs clearance time will increase from an average of 2 minutes per vehicle to over 20 minutes. The infrastructure at Dover and Eurotunnel is not designed to cope with the increased processing time so lorries will have to queue on the M20. Just now over 10,000 lorries a day cross the Channel at Dover plus 6000 cars and coaches. Thousands more use Eurotunnel. Operation Brock is the successor to Operation Stack which has been activated a number of times when there have been problems with Channel ferries and Eurotunnel.
While the coastbound side is used for storing lorries over a 13 mile stretch of the M20, the London bound side will be used for traffic in both directions with the hard shoulder and inside lane being used as for London bound traffic. Just now only the division between the future London bound side and coastbound sides has been marked out with cones at Hollingbourne although work has already started at the Ashford end with the installation of concrete barriers. Although there is a 50mph speed limit on the divided section of the M20, there have been a number of accidents of late where vehicles have clipped the barriers which have resulted in major disruption not just on the motorway but on surrounding roads including the M20 as motorists have sought alternative routes.
In 2015 when the M20 was used for Operation Stack for over 30 days because of problems in Calais there were traffic problems in Hollingbourne and in other communities around the M20. At that time Kent County Council installed temporary toilets alongside the M20 for drivers while Tesco delivered food and water. Kent Police also incurred significant policing costs which were borne by the people of Kent. Similar arrangements may apply after March 2019.
It is understood that after Brexit that it will be necessary for drivers going to France to obtain an International Driving Permit which costs £5.50 with the Maidstone Post Office in W.H. Smith in Week Street being the nearest Post Office which issues them. Green Cards will also be required for insurance purposes and there may be a charge for these from insurance companies. EHIC cards which provide emergency medical cover in the EU will no longer be valid. More information is at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/how-to-prepare-if-the-uk-leaves-the-eu-with-no-deal .
Local MP Mrs Helen Whately is looking into the possibility of compensation payments for affected residents under the terms of the Land Compensation Act 1973 which covers payments to those affected by public works. Payments under the terms of this Act were paid to those affected by the building of HS1 and the M20. Just now Mrs Whately is awaiting a response from Mr Jesse Norman MP, Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Transport.
A report in The Guardian about the impact of delays at Dover and Eurotunnel and traffic problems on the M20 is at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/sep/26/no-deal-brexit-minor-port-delays-30-minutes-bankrupt-1-in-10-uk-firms
Pictured below is the start of works on the M20 at Hollingbourne.
Pictured below is the M20 at Hollingbourne in 2015 when it was used for Operation Stack because of delays at Calais and traffic backed up in Hollingbourne because of Operation Stack.