With autumn now upon us (and of course the weather getting better than it has been all summer) it is worth noting one summer phenomenon that did not happen—days of chaos at Dover and Eurotunnel which in turn creates gridlock throughout East Kent.
As a result even those of us who wince at every manifestation of Operation Brock should recognise that its use in late July and early August meant that the system worked much better than in previous holiday periods, even though traffic levels are now back to pre-pandemic levels.
But in the long term we still need an alternative to using part of the M20 as a temporary holding area for freight lorries crossing the Channel. Brock is better than Stack, when the whole motorway was used a lorry park, but there has to be a better way to organise the queues at busy periods.
In pursuit of this I have been meeting Transport Ministers and arguing the case that this is a national and not just a Kent problem, and that we need a solution that takes queuing lorries off the roads.
The relevant Minister, Lady Vere, tells me that work is now underway on how to achieve this, and she says in a letter “There is a great deal of complexity still to work through in developing a viable replacement to Operation Brock, and there are no quick wins, but it does appear that off road sites and new technology may offer an alternative.”
This is naturally cautious, but it does mark significant progress in our long campaign for a new solution. By technology, the Minister simply means the ability to communicate with individual lorry drivers to tell them, for example, to stay in a service station outside Kent until they are called forward.
This will remain a long process but we do now appear, perhaps appropriately, to be moving forward and not stuck in a queue.