Lorry controls that were brought in for Brexit on the M20 and around the Port of Dover could become permanent, the Department for Transport has admitted.
Controls were due to end on the 31st October under “sunset clauses” that could be lifted in parliament next month.
It means concrete barriers could be used to reconfigure the Kent M20 during any type of disruption.
Operation Brock was introduced amid fears withdrawal from the EU could lead to disruption for cross-Channel trade and was only supposed to alleviate early issues once the UK left the EU.
Ministers are expected to make the provisions indefinite, which means the emergency protocol can be activated at any time to govern the flow of lorries around the Port of Dover and Channel tunnel at Folkestone with contraflow systems.
The change was published quietly in a consultation response on the government’s website during parliamentary recess while MPs were away from Westminster and has only been uncovered.
The government’s consultation response said removing the sunset clauses would provide the Kent Resilience Forum with “the ability to respond to circumstances appropriately and swiftly, minimising any disruption”. That will not be minimising disruption for poor Kent commuters.
Jim McMahon, the shadow transport secretary, said “By removing the sunset clauses on Operation Brock it’s an admission that they’ve failed to plan for the outcome of their Brexit negotiations and failed to work with local people over the past 18 months to put in place a better scheme. Operation Brock has proved unpopular locally and slipping out an announcement in the hope that no one notices shows a total disregard for the concerns of local people in Kent. Ministers must explain whether they looked at other options and what mitigation measures they are going to put in place to reduce disruption affecting local communities.”
The Government have shown they are not sure on the best solution for holding Channel traffic. Previous measures have included the Kent Access Permit, which lorry drivers needed before entering the county, but which has since been stopped as it was unworkable.
the Kent Resilience Forum is better prepared to respond to any type of traffic disruption, including strikes and severe weather