Highways England announces Operation Brock plan

Published : 08/04/2019

New measures that will improve Kent’s resilience when services across the English Channel are disrupted will be ready for use from next week, Highways England announced today (Friday 22 March).

Traditionally when there has been severe disruption to cross-channel services, sections of the M20 have been closed and used to queue HGVs heading for mainland Europe, under arrangements known as Operation Stack.

In November 2017 the Government announced that, alongside ongoing work to find a permanent solution for Operation Stack, Highways England would take forward interim alternatives for Operation Stack that could be ready for use in March 2019, and that, crucially, would keep the M20 open in both directions.


From next week, Operation Brock will be available as an extra tool for managing disruption in Kent. Operation Brock queues lorries bound for mainland Europe on the coastbound M20 and uses a contraflow on the London-bound carriageway to enable other traffic to travel in both directions.

Under the new arrangements, in addition to the M20 contraflow lorries can be routed to Manston Airfield and, if needed, the M26 motorway can be closed and used to queue HGVs too.

The M20 contraflow is planned to be in place by 6am on Monday 25 March, and there will be roadworks on the M20 and M26 over the weekend and into next week as the final preparations and adjustments are made.

From Monday (25 March) the M20 contraflow will be in effect from north of Junction 8 (for Maidstone) to Junction 9 at Ashford. Lorries heading for mainland Europe will be routed down the coastbound carriageway, with a 30mph speed limit in place.  All other traffic will be directed onto the London-bound carriageway, with two lanes in each direction operating at 50mph. The deployment will help to demonstrate Kent’s preparedness for disruption and allow the contraflow to be in place for any traffic disruption in the coming weeks. Three lanes in each direction could be restored, with a 50mph limit, if Operation Brock is assessed as unlikely to be required in the following weeks.

operation brock motorway

Drivers are advised that sections of the M20 will be closed this weekend for the final work to take place, signed diversions will be in place. From Monday drivers will need to follow the different layout on the M20 from just north of Junction 8 (for Leeds) to Junction 9 (Ashford).

The M20 will be closed overnight (8pm – 6am) each night until Monday morning between Junction 7 (for Maidstone) and Junction 9. Overnight closures may also be required on this section next week if there is remaining work to complete.  For the preparations for the M26, there will also be overnight closures on the weekends of the 23 and 30 March.

For more information on Operation Brock and other contingency measures in Kent, take a look at How Operation Brock will affect your journey.