The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has questioned whether funds to implement Operation Brock, the Government’s planned traffic management system for Kent in the event of a no-deal Brexit, have been made available in time to make an impact and prevent delays.
Almost £30m has been allocated to Kent County Council (KCC) to cover the design, build and initial operation of the scheme.
The council said the majority of the funding will go on strengthening carriagewayas but £5m will go on improving the disused Manston Airport.
KCC's head of transport Mike Whiting said the grant was "very much an insurance policy".
"f there is no deal we want Kent to be as prepared as possible. It's a very tight timetable - it's an enormous task," he told the BBC.
Heidi Skinner, Policy Manager for the South East at the FTA, which represents more than 17,000 logistics businesses in the UK, said: “The logistics industry is already being forced to waste millions of pounds trying to prepare for uncertain future, which the industry was promised would not happen. Due to the lack of progress towards a Brexit deal, the logistics industry has been left waiting for an agreement to frictionless trade."
She continued: “With under 10 weeks to go until Brexit there is still considerable work that needs to be done to ensure the county of Kent and country as a whole is ready to handle new trading conditions. UK and overseas drivers need to understand what restrictions they will face, but there has been no communication yet.
“Freight and logistics firms need information and time to prepare - neither have been given. The logistics industry always does its best to Keep Britain Trading – it is flexible and able to adapt (given notice) but is not, and cannot be, prepared in such a short time to make good the chaos of a no deal Brexit.”
The recent truck trial at Manston Airport, part of Operation Brock, was branded a success by the Road Haulage Association in as much as “approximately 80 HGVs trucks now know what to do in the event of lengthy, local traffic queues between Manston and Dover”.
Commenting on the day of the trial, RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: “Of course it’s good to have a plan in place but today’s limited scope trial will need to be repeated to stress-test other aspects of the management of thousands of lorries properly.
“Today’s trial cannot possibly duplicate the reality of 4,000 trucks being held at Manston airport in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
“It’s too little, too late – this process should have started nine months ago. At this late stage it looks like window dressing.”
Posted on: January 23rd 2019