M20 to be closed for two weeks to remove no-deal Brexit barriers

A contraflow system being tested as part of Operation Brock (AP)

A motorway in Kent is set to be closed overnight for more than two weeks to remove a series of barriers introduced to alleviate traffic caused by a potential no-deal Brexit.

The M20 was closed between junctions seven and nine from 8pm on Monday and reopened at 6am on Tuesday as works began.

It is due to be closed at the same times for the next 15 days with diversions in place.

The work will return the M20 to its normal state for the first time since Operation Brock was introduced.

The M20 contraflow was designed to manage queues of trucks heading to Europe, via ferries or the Eurotunnel to France, in the event of a no-deal Brexit (AP)

Operation Brock came into force in Kent at 6am on 28 October, three days before the UK was due to withdraw from the EU.

But the government announced shortly before the 31 October deadline that the scheme will be ended “as soon as possible” after a further delay to Brexit was confirmed.

Lorries heading for Europe had faced a 30mph speed limit on a 13-mile stretch of the coastbound carriage of the M20 as part of Operation Brock.

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All other traffic on the motorway, including lorries carrying out UK deliveries, would have been forced to use a 50mph contraflow of two lanes in each direction on the London-bound side of the road.

Motorists were warned to allow for extra travel time and to make sure they had food and water in their vehicles in case of delays.

Several holding areas to park lorries were also created to house stationary lorries, including at Manston Airfield.

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The measures were aimed at minimising disruption and keeping local traffic moving.

Operation Brock was initially deployed on March 25, four days ahead of the first planned Brexit date.

It was deactivated around three weeks later following the delay to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, but the steel barriers for the contraflow system and 50mph speed limit remained in place.

Ashford MP Damian Green told BBC News he was pleased the "wretched barriers" were finally being removed.

"It's been a miserable place to be driving for the past nine months or so and so everyone will welcome it going away," Mr Green said.

While Highways England project director Nicky Potts said: "Removing the Operation Brock barrier is good news for drivers and the people of Kent and reflects the decreased risk of disruption to cross-channel services in the coming months."