Under 90 lorries take part in Manston ‘post-Brexit’ trial run

Lorries at Manston Photo Kent Police Roads Policing Unit

Fewer than 90 lorries of an expected 150 are reported to have taken part in a ‘post-Brexit’ trial run from the Manston airport site today (January 7).

The run organised by the Department for Transport and Kent County Council assembled at Manston at 7am, leaving at approximately 8-8.30am, in batches of 25.

Lorries had been due to use the emergency exit by Jentex on to the Canterbury Road West but instead left the other end of the site on to the A299.

A second run will take place at 11am.


The DfT 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.

Photo Frank Leppard

“To ensure the route from Manston to Dover can safely withstand an increase in HGV traffic, we are conducting a live test. 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 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.

Photo Frank Leppard

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 – 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.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has been asked for comment.


  1. I think it’s fair to say this ‘test’ falls well short of what the actual reality might be. Thanet could become gridlocked. The roads on to, and off Thanet could become blocked. This would hamper those thousands of people who drive away from Thanet for work and other reasons. This is an ineffective test.

  2. I would like to know how much does it cost to hire 87 lorries plus fuel to travel 85 miles in a day ?

  3. Where is the acknowledgement that this will cost the freight companies money and make doing business impossible.stage 1 is in reality : park anywhere they can find. Who can blame them? This is not the way companies do business nowadays. If we were to do this properly we would hold lorries at the start of their journeys until the way through was clear. That would show too clearly the effect on business.

  4. The trial this morning hasn’t been a true test! I went up there at 7.30am. Plans were changed as someone with half a brain realised that driving through Manston village would be almost impossible. So initially, the lorries entered the Manston Airport site via an entrance they will never use in reality. Then, only 25 lorries were allowed to leave instead of 150, so although there was a traffic jam at the Minster roundabout to the lane closure by the emergency exit which the lorries were using to leave, the traffic beyond the lane closure wasn’t too bad. But, that possibly won’t happen in reality. I didn’t drive to Sandwich to see the chaos there.

    Also, people seem to forget there is a Development Consent Order going on, so if RiverOak become the new owners of Manston Airport instead of Ann Gloag and Stone Hill Park, the Operation Brock situation may be cancelled anyway! More government / KCC mis-management?

    • “Take back control with Brexit….and end up with chaos!” I suppose some Brextremists will defend all this by saying that “at least it’s a red,white and blue British chaos!” Very reassuring.

  5. So as I understand the comments from the Cllr this is not a real world test and the roads of thanet will become gridlocked !!! but an additional 12000 houses with 1.3 cars per house would take up MUCH MORE SPACE than a mere 150 big rigs ….. just gonna let that percolate for a min ….

  6. Erm, where are the additional 12,000 houses to be built? All on Stonehill Park, or scattered all over Thanet?
    And do consider that most cars spend 23 hours a day parked, and not driving on the roads.

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