HGV convoy to take part in trial runs for Manston post-Brexit lorry park plans

The Manston airport site Photo Frank Leppard

Trial runs to test the effectiveness of using the Manston airport site as a lorry park to deal with post-Brexit traffic backlogs will be carried out on Monday (January 7).

The run organised by the Department for Transport, with between 100 and 150 HGVs, will assemble at Manston at 7am, leaving at approximately 8am, and then follow the route to Dover. A second run will take place at 11am.

Communication from the DfT to Cliffsend Parish Council says: “The use of Manston airfield as an HGV holding facility is one of the traffic management measures as part of the current draft plan to alleviate congestion on Kent roads in the event of any disruption at the border. This also now includes if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, should there be any disruption.

“To ensure the route from Manston to Dover can safely withstand an increase in HGV traffic, we are conducting a live test on Monday 7th January. This test will establish the safest optimum release rate of HGVs from Manston airfield along the proposed route on the A256 to the Port of Dover, and how any impacts could be managed.

“The DfT has sought participation of up to 150 HGVs from hauliers, via contacts through the Road Haulage Association and Freight Transport Association, to carry out the test. The intention is for two test runs to take place, one in the morning peak time departing around 08:00, and another departing at around 11:00, to assess times taken from Manston airfield along the A256, and from the bottom of the A256 to the Eastern Docks roundabout at the entry of the Port.

“The A299 from Minster Roundabout to Cliffsend Roundabout will have lane one coned off to allow HGVs to safely join the Thanet Way. They will then travel South along A299 and A256 to a temporary holding point before joining the A2 to the Eastern Docks Roundabout. Staff will be positioned along the whole route throughout the trial to monitor flows. If required at any time, flows from Manston can be halted as needed.”

Asked which route -the A256 or the Thanet Way – a DfT spokesman said no further details could be given on a live route. However, KCC confirms the route will be along the Hengist Way, Sevenscore roundabout and the A256 then on to the A2 into Dover. HGVs will arrive at Manston along Spitfire Way from the Thanet Way and then use exits on to Hengist Way and on to Canterbury Road West.

A haulier insider said 150 lorries would equate to some one-and-a-half-miles in length.

County council plans

The Manston airport site has been earmarked for dealing with expected backlogs in a plan from Kent County Council.

The authority used scaled-up estimates of previous Operation Stack impacts and some high-level border checking analysis undertaken by Government, These have been used to form a Traffic Management Plan to ensure Kent’s highways continue to be open.

The plan looks at the impact of queuing traffic arising from border changes following the UK’s exit from the European Union on March 29.

It has been forecast that, in a no-deal Brexit scenario, Kent will need to cope with holding up to 10,000 HGVs on a routine basis.

KCC Highways and partners have devised a dedicated ‘Freight Traffic Management Plan.’

The plan uses information from Highways England, Kent Police, KCC Highways and other agencies.

Operation Brock

Operation Brock – the updated version of lorry queuing system Operation Stack- contains 5 phases for dealing with a backlog of HGVs. Phase 1 uses the A20 and Dover and Eurotunnel buffer zones, phase 2 is a contraflow system on the M20, phase 3 uses the A256 and sends up to 6,000 lorries to be parked up on the Manston airport site.

Phase 4 uses the M26 and phase 5 takes traffic out of the county

In November 2017 a Government arrangement to use the  site as an emergency lorry park for Operation Stack was extended for two years, allowing it to be used until  December 31, 2019.

A Kent County Council spokesman said:“We are working with the Department for Transport to ensure there is an effective plan in place should there be any disruption once the UK has left the EU.

“Operation Brock has been designed to ensure that, unlike Operation Stack, the M20 will be kept open and traffic will continue to flow in both directions at times of cross-Channel disruption. Work on this new approach, Operation Brock, would have taken place regardless of the result of the referendum, to improve contingency arrangements for a range of scenarios which could result in cross-Channel disruption, including bad weather and industrial action.

“The use of Manston airfield as an HGV holding facility is one of the traffic management measures in the DfT’s current draft plan to alleviate congestion on Kent roads in the event of any disruption at the border. On Monday 7th January there is a live test involving around 150 HGVs taking the route from Manston to Dover.  This test will establish the safest optimum release rate of HGVs along the proposed route on the A256 to the Port of Dover, and how any impacts could be managed.

“We very much look forward to hearing feedback on the trial from the DfT.”


    • Should be the A256.

      However I’m confused as to whether this is to be used both ways to and from Dover, or if they have forgotten about how lorries were previously supposed to get to Manston from the North under the earlier Operation Stack plans, which was via the A2/M2 and Thanet Way, or the M20/A249/M2 and Thanet Way?

  1. One could not make it up. HGVs that travel everywhere every day 24/7 are going to take part in a rehearsal to drive from an airport to the port of Dover. What a pity this government did not rehearse what they have to do to be effective as a government instead of being totally useless. Maybe Mr Raab the ex Brexit secretary should go along to see where Dover is.

  2. It’s more of an airport than a stone park. It will be up and running soon as an airport. That will it be Karma in my book long overdue. I understand that a television program is investigating the waste of taxpayers money in what is being paid to those who say they own Maston Airport and why does the transport Minister thinks it’s a good idea to waste the money he has so far.

    • Best to avoid a “trial run” from Ramsgate to Ostende. There won’t be a ferry, the lorries would sink, and the authorities in Belgium won’t have been told to expect anything anyway!

  3. I agree with Ann. They should have trialled this straight away when Kent Police objected to the practicality of Operation Stack using Manston, but KCC Leader Paul Carter, in his wisdom, dismissed their protests. I wonder why? Nothing to do with money, or his relationship with Ann Gloag/ SHP, I suppose? PC thinks Seaborne Freight are good too!!!!!!!! Oh dear! Roll on the RiverOak DCO and let’s use Manston as an airport again to bring some much-needed prosperity to Thanet.

    • Let’s not use Manston as an airport again. Let’s think of less damaging ways to bring work opportunities to Thanet.

  4. Lets hope there are no bottles of wee, food packaging, plastic bags and other filth left over like there was during operation stack. I can remember driving passed the areas concerned months after and it looked like a dumping ground!

    • I don’t think you’ve got that quite right. On the 29th March the UK might experience a ‘hard Brexit, which would be catastrophic for us. The rest of the world will hardly notice.

  5. And anyone who wants to protest about this only has to turn up on Monday morning and have their car accidentally break down blocking the roundabout and the whole place comes to a standstill.

  6. Dear all,
    Firstly I would agree to both businesses, one, the return of Manston airport and Ramsgate ferry port,both are long overdue,as I’m a MD successful businessman for over 39 years in Ramsgate with the ups and downs of the economy, that’s life. So as I see it from my perspective let’s hope that both work out,as this will be excellent for all of the Thanet, Dover, and Canterbury, people having to enjoy and work for them both,if i had the chance or the money to do something like this i would not hesitate,as it’s about prosperity for the future.

    • People living in Ramsgate, and in other places under the flight path, certainly wouldn’t enjoy the consequences of having a cargo hub airport nearby.

  7. What a shambles! Only a Tory government would bring this on, they’re only concerned about business, you know give massive tax breaks to their cronies while your granny sits in a hospital corridor waiting to die.
    Did you hear that stupid woman on TV today? It’s like an automaton speaking, she just keep saying I’m right so don’t even try to challenge me.
    Well done all you pseudo tories, you’ve given up all that your forefathers fought for and fallen for the old Tory mantra, do you really think they have your interests in mind? Not a chance, they are taking you for mugs. WAKE UP BRITAIN!

  8. Do they know that people actually live, and like living in Thanet? Are we to continue to be the dumping ground and profit provider for governments, housing associations and property developers? Can we please have an injection of ‘life’ into Manston and Ramsgate. Nobody in Thanet can afford the housing they are building unless they are from out of Thanet. We do not want to be a lorry park or a motorway through to Dover. Please someone come and look at Thanet and realise just what it does need – some kind of airport; ferry terminal and genuine offers to continue regeneration.

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