© Sue Martin |operation stack
© Sue Martin

The UK Road Haulage Association (RHA) has criticised the Department for Transport (DfT) for not consulting the haulage industry over proposals for easing congestion on the roads to Dover.

Announced last week, Operation Brock will see one carriageway between junctions 8 and 9 of the M20 closed to provide temporary parking for trucks.

RHA CEO Richard Burnett said he was concerned that the interim plan was announced before a forthcoming public consultation on a permanent solution had taken place.

“We’re disappointed the government hasn’t engaged more with the haulage industry over measures to ensure the smooth flow of goods through Dover,” said Mr Burnett. “We need to see much more detail than they are currently prepared to give.”

Following the DfT announcement, Freight Transport Association (FTA) head of policy Christopher Snelling praised the move, but Mr Burnett is less enthusiastic.

“Government says these [temporary] arrangements will allow traffic to continue flowing in the event of lorries queueing to cross the Channel. But as we still don’t know what post-Brexit customs arrangements will look like, it appears they’re putting forward a traffic management system before the scale of the problem has been established.

“This is evidence of the real danger of not achieving fluid borders after Brexit; Kent would become a traffic jam with devastating effects on supply chains, the local economy and the people of Kent.”

A spokesperson for the FTA told The Loadstar that, despite Mr Burnett’s view,  the association still viewed Operation Brock as a “really good” temporary solution.

Although the spokesperson added: “We still have some concerns surrounding the provision of acceptable facilities for drivers, but we have been in constant discussion with the DfT over this.

“It was pleasing to see last week’s announcement that this had been pushed to the top of the DfT’s agenda, as no one wants drivers just pulling up at the side of the road and sleeping in their cabs.”

Furthermore, the spokesperson added, it was imperative there was a “finite” solution, adding that the FTA had been “pushing hard” for a timeframe for this.

“It is vital this [Operation Brock] does not become the permanent solution.”

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