Friday, January 10, 2020

Death of Operation Brock is a Metaphor for Brexit

Hope Springs as Barriers Come Down
Shipping News Feature
UK – The decision to remove the physical barriers put in place to control traffic should the much maligned Operation Brock be instituted, are to be taken down the government said today. It is estimated the removal works, starting on Monday January 13, will take a fortnight, and this action could well be taken as a metaphor for the process of Brexit itself.

It seems no time at all since then minister Chris Grayling was paddling around in a mess of his own making when we witnessed the creation and inception of the scheme to divide the M20 motorway in Kent, using one carriageway solely for freight traffic heading toward the Channel Ports, whether such traffic was moving or not.

The scheme presupposed that everybody involved in road haulage was an idiot, with many trucks heading for export despite their lack of documentation. The fact that the major delays might actually be occurring involving import traffic seemed never to occur to government. History tells us these routes often suffer problems, sometimes due to weather conditions, sometimes by industrial action of the type we are currently seeing in France.

A year ago, almost to the day we saw the ‘trialling’ of the system, devised with the assistance of the Road Haulage Association (RHA) and the Freight Transport Association (FTA), but immediately the initial test was derided for including only a tiny fraction of the number of vehicles it was envisaged would need to use the scheme in case of problems, judging by the past history of its predecessor, Operation Stack.

The government had already fouled up with its much vaunted giant Stanford West lorry park, hailed as the saving grace until kicked out after all plans had been drawn up when a Judicial Review heard it had failed to undertake the mandatory environmental study in one of the most picturesque areas in the south of England.

October 2019 we were told would see the Operation Brock scheme sail into action however, like a company with no ferries, or most of the Brexit talk that never happened, and one hopes that henceforth, after the removal of the metal barriers to mark its passing, a deal can be worked out with the EU to ensure that trade at least keeps flowing unhindered. On hearing the latest news Heidi Skinner, FTA’s Policy Manager for the South East, said:

“FTA welcomes the removal of the Operation Brock barriers and calls on government to develop a permanent solution to Operation Stack which can effectively manage freight traffic during cross Channel disruptions. In the view of our members, it is crucial for all logistics vehicles to be ‘border-ready’ before entering Kent to avoid additional delays. And, until the threat of a No Deal Brexit is completely off the table, FTA is still advising its members to make all necessary preparations to ensure the industry can keep Britain trading.”