Plans on how Kent will deal with potential traffic disruption at the end of the Brexit transition period on January 1 have been published.
When the transition period ends, the UK will no longer be a member of the Single Market or the Customs Union.
Therefore, new border controls and checks will be implemented which will impact the short Channel crossings.
The UK will be treated by the EU as a third country and will be subject to full third country controls and a variety of border checks.
This has the potential for an increased likelihood of delays to the crossing of the short straits and the need for a multi-agency plan for management of the congestion consequences.
Known as Operation Fennel, the plan was developed by the multi-agency Kent Resilience Forum (KRF) in partnership with national government.
The Forum includes organisations such as Kent Police, Kent Fire and Rescue Service, South East Coast Ambulance Service, Kent County Council, Medway Council and the district and borough councils, working alongside government departments including Border and Protocol Delivery Group, Department for Transport and Highways England and HMRC.
Now available to view on the Kent Prepared website, the document outlines the arrangements to ensure the M20 can be kept open to traffic and that disruption for local residents, businesses and other road users is kept to a minimum, whilst providing temporary traffic holding areas.
Operation Fennel, which also covers driver welfare and non-freight traffic, is designed to operate at different stages, with different options being used depending on the prevailing traffic conditions.
The plans can cope with up to 7,000 HGVs, the maximum queue length of HGVs expected in Kent under the national reasonable worst-case scenario planning assumptions.
The plans also outline the Government’s web service which will be known as ‘Check an HGV is Ready to Cross the Border’. The service will be able to issue a digital Kent Access Permit to freight ready to cross the Straits s before it enters Kent.
Mark Rolfe, Head of Kent Resilience Team said: “The Port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel are facilities of national importance. As the shortest crossing point between the UK and mainland Europe, the short straits ports (Port of Dover and Channel Tunnel) account for 69% of all goods vehicles and 89% of all powered goods vehicles that travel between the UK and the EU.
“Come January 1, the processing of freight and tourist traffic may lead to a risk of congestion and of journey times taking longer than they would today.
“Through the KRF we have brought together Department for Transport, Highways England, Kent Police, and Kent County Council in agreeing a single plan for Kent.
“Together we aim to keep Kent moving, preventing and minimising the impact of cross channel disruption on the community, freight and non-freight traffic and the environment.
“We will continue to operate a safe, local and strategic system using the transport network in Kent and provide reliable travel information.”
To view the plan, visit www.kentprepared.org.uk/end-of-transition-plans