HGVs arrive at Manston as French border remains closed to UK travel

HGVs at Manston (December 2020) Photo Frank Leppard

HGVs have started arriving at Manston as the French border remains shut to UK travellers and accompanied freight going into the country. Travel from France to Britain is still open.

Around 30 lorries are understood to be currently parked on the airport site with Highways England saying any HGVs which arrive in Kent tonight will be diverted to Manston to park.

Operation Stack was implemented on the coastbound carriageway of the M20 between Junctions 8 and 11 yesterday. It was put in place as a contingency measure following the French government’s announcement it will not accept any passengers arriving from the UK for 48 hours as of last night (December 20), and the subsequent closures of the Port of Dover and Channel Tunnel.

Photo Frank Leppard

A special development order allows use of the Manston site as part of the Kent-wide Operation Fennel to hold up to 4,000 HGVs to help cope with possible post EU exit jams at the Port of Dover.

The deal with the Department of Transport for the site to continue to be designated as a ‘EU exit’ lorry park has been extended until the end of June 2021. After this it is expected that full custom controls will be in effect by July, negating the need for further use of the site,

Photo Frank Leppard

Under the Operation Fennel plan, the A299, Manston and the A256 would be used to manage lorries heading for the Port of Dover if congestion builds up on the M20. This is as a result of the new border controls due to come in force at 11pm on 31 December 2020.

Major concerns have been raised about the impact on Thanet of the EU exit lorry park provision at the Manston.

Issues raised at a council meeting last month included fears for the risk to lives because of a potential blocking of the road network to QEQM Hospital and to routes for Ashford hospital and the overwhelming of health services if a Covid outbreak occurred at the lorry park which can hold up to 4000 HGVs – equating to a possible 8,000 drivers.

Photo Frank Leppard

Fears that a fire incident could spread out of control were also aired by Cllr Paul Moore.

Operation Brock is being set up tonight (December 21) on the M20 motorway as part of a plan to keep traffic moving. It involves using a contraflow road layout on the M20 London-bound carriageway between junctions 9 and 8 (from Ashford to Maidstone) and directing lorries heading for mainland Europe onto the coastbound carriageway, where they can be queued if necessary.

A long concrete moveable barrier is put in place to allow the contraflow to happen safely.

Operation Brock will replace Operation Stack.

Photo Frank Leppard

Operation Brock opens up more of the road network in Kent because it means traffic can continue to move in both directions on the M20, whereas Stack effectively closes it to coastbound traffic.


To make sure the barrier is deployed safely, the M20 will be closed coastbound between junction 7 (for Maidstone) and junction 9 (Ashford), and London-bound between junctions 9 and 8 (Maidstone East), overnight tonight (8pm to 8am). The M20 will reopen by 8am Tuesday morning with the new road layout in place.

Hauliers are advised to avoid travelling to Kent as disruption could last for several days.

Photo Frank Leppard

Talks are currently underway to find a solution and enable the travel ban to be lifted.

Today Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Working with the Kent Resilience Forum, Kent County Council and Highways England, we’ve activated our long-prepared plans, with the result that we have already been able to reduce the number of lorries waiting on the M20 from 500 to 170.

Photo Frank Leppard

“The site at Manston Airfield is ready to cope with any overflow. And, of course, we are working with our friends across the Channel to unblock the flow of trade as fast as possible.

“The Government at all levels is communicating with our friends in Paris I have just spoken to President Macron – we had a very good call – we both understand each other’s positions and want to resolve these problems as fast as possible.”


The PM added: “I want to stress that we in the UK fully understand the anxieties of our friends about Covid, their anxieties about the new variant (of covid), but it is also true that we believe the risks of transmission by a solitary driver sitting alone in the cab are really very low. And so we hope to make progress as fast as we possibly can.

“These delays only apply to a very small percentage of food entering the UK, and as British supermarkets have said, their supply chains are strong and robust, so everyone can continue to shop normally.”

Sign at Manston airport site Photo Frank Leppard

About 10,000 lorries a day travel between Dover and Calais during peak periods like Christmas.

Operation Brock will remain in place until further notice.


  1. Might as well put the defunct runway to some use. Shame the duty free trolley is closed, unless Tony F wants to push one around and get some lolly in.

  2. A lovely early Brexit present.

    Thanks to Craig bringing polluting lorries to Thanet for no reason.

    Glad the part we can play in history is a lorry park.

    Tories Making Thanet great again.

  3. Lorries would feature heavily in Craig’s cargo hub too, so perhaps this is his attempt at an early Christmas present for Ramsgate.

    Brexit, Covid, Cargo Hub.

    All equal massive lorry traffic, gridlock and pollution.

  4. A capacity of 4,000 trucks at Manston. Currently 30 are parked there.
    This seems to be a familiar feature of Manston’s history.

  5. For heaven’s sake, what is the problem with all you moaners?
    A totally unexpected event has happened with the Covid pandemic that has made all countries in the world become very nervous. The reaction is to close theit borders from the UK, unfortunate for us especially, but of no real surprise.
    Lorries will naturally back up along the motorways, in both the UK and France, and so Manston has started to be opened up to ease the roads elsewhere in east Kent. This is all new territory for the government, KCC and us which I am confident will all get sorted as soon as possible. Be positive for once and stop all the bitching, give those in charge a chance.
    If anybody thinks they can do better, perhaps you chose the wrong profession . Wait and see , support your country.

    • The event was not “totally unexpected”.
      The SARS, MERS and Ebola outbreaks were a wakeup call. Indeed, it is partly due to vaccine work prompted by these outbreaks.
      The tory government, a few years ago, carried out a Pandemic Preparedness exercise … and ignored its findings.
      A BBC Panorama programme hosted by mathematician Hanny Fry just a couple of years ago modelled the consequences of an outbreak just like CV.
      So: the government could have been far far better prepared, but they chose not to be.
      Ad to what happened since January, that’s another story of utter incompetence.

  6. Well said Ton. Utilising a derelict airfield to ease the congestion on our roads makes perfect sense. To all you moaners, try having some sympathy for all those drivers stuck here through no fault of their own. They have families back home. They also have basic needs like toilets, showers, food. Would you want to squat behind your car? Get some compassion – after all, ’tis the season of good will.

    • I wouldn’t describe any of the comments at the beginning of the thread as being by “moaners”. Pretty factual, rather.

    • Not well said Ton + ‘Gooey'(Your thinking is like your name from what I can see).
      As always this a half baked extemporised cock up.There are trucks everywhere with no where to go.
      Here is a plan:
      1. Direct all trucks to Manston in batches of 10 or 20, so they don’t foul up the road in large numbers.
      2.Direct batches of lorries in 10 or 20’s to the Testing site at Ramsgate Harbour, get the tests done and redirect back to Manston to be kept in a holding bay separate from lorries inward.Make sure they are isolated and in their cabs.
      3.Set up feeding stations and feed them from mobile canteens.
      4.only allow out as individuals to wash and go to the toilet.
      5.Clean said toilets and washing facilities regularly (once an hour minimum)
      6 Issue test results to drivers and when available send to the next ferry service.

      We could have washed,fed and tested all the truck drivers by now, instead of squabbling with the French.
      As always we give vent to anger rather than dealing with the situation.The French after all are only ‘taking back control’and defending their national interest.
      As for supporting the govt how about issuing an acrow for each minister to give them some backbone.

  7. Been along the A299 twice now since this started. The sign posting on the wa up to the minster roundabout is a joke. Lorrys are going straight on instead of turning left, down to the next roundabout going all the way back along the A299 to minster again. In fact last night at around 7:30 the sign said that spitfire way was closed.

    Why is this country so badly run, it’s the worst I can ever remember in my 65 years.

  8. For the 1st time since leaving the RAF, Manston actually finds a worthwhile use, and for the 1st time EVER, turns a profit.

      • The only relevant history now is as a commercial airport. That started in 1999 and it has lost money every year through till 2014 when it closed.

        • I do not deny that but you can not also deny it’s place in history or it’s heritage before you diss these things learn about them when you live in an area at least learn something about it I would have thought that is what anyone would do don’t live in complete ignorance all your life

  9. Who is moaning? I’m thrilled the defunct airfield is getting some use.

    It also helps demonstrate the lorry overload Roger Gale and Tony F and Craig are proposing for Thanet so we can all get a bit of ‘try before you buy pollution and traffic’. Nobody seems to connect freight hub with shed loads of lorries so this is an ideal time to do so.

    What’s not to love?

  10. From what I saw on the tele, thousands of HGV type trucks were stuck on the motorway, as well as many trucks that were not HGV! The HGV trucks are most likely to have a bunk in the cab, but not the vans! It will be impossible to provide beds for hundreds of drivers of non HGV vehicles at Manston or elsewhere, I would think, or enough toilets, and food, so is this a good idea?

  11. Good practice for the future, I suppose.

    Now, rather than be a “moaner”, I will think of a reason to blame the French.
    Moaning about the French isn’t “moaning” apparently. It’s quite acceptable and even “patriotic”. I mean, how dare they take back control of their borders! Barring entry to people until sure they are OK. We noble Britons wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing, would we?
    Now, unfortunately, it looks like about 30 other countries are also barring entry to people coming from the UK so just blaming the French sounds a bit feeble.
    Never mind, needs must, can’t let the voters blame the Party that has been in power in Westminster for the last 11 years ,can we?
    Will just keep banging on about “the French” as if the entire population of France sits down every day to think up ways of causing problems for Britain, a declining country off their northern coast with whom only a small part of their trade is conducted.
    With a bit of luck, we can get enough support for a war. We haven’t had a war with France for over 200 years. It’s about time.
    Then we will all be happy again, living on cabbages, enjoying our “blood, sweat and tiers”.

    • Stuff the French stuff the E U and stuff anyone the thinks Britain is a declining country people like you make me so mad sod off abroad if you think this country is so bad and see how you get on

      • We have to be realistic. Britain USED to be a large Imperial power. It isn’t any more.
        People from New Zealand to Newfoundland USED to HAVE to buy our manufactured goods. But they are independent and don’t have to buy our stuff any more.
        So Thatcher deliberately closed most of our heavy industries as they had no market unless subsidised by the taxpayer and THAT was just not approved!

        To be “patriotic” we have to stop the pretence. We are a medium-sized economy amongst other similar-sized economies , off the coast of Europe. We MIGHT become a happier country if we accepted that the future lies in co-operation with our trading partners, NOT in conflict.
        But, until we get real, frauds like Johnson, with his talk of “world-beating test and trace” and “oven-ready deals” will be elected to manage more decline.
        Why should I move abroad? (Though the Greek Islands would have been nice, until Brexit sabotaged that dream).
        To criticise Brexit IS being patriotic!

        • Yawn! More ramblings from tree frogs what a sad individual you are. Treat yourself and have some fizz on Christmas Day. No not champagne but some English Sparkling Wine from maybe Kent.!

          • For goodness sake stop putting this country down. I find it really sad that people want be led like sheep instead of being the leaders we should be but never will be because of the EU lovers.

          • I do not need alcohol to keep me going and for your information I buy British whenever I can so stick that in your hat bozo

        • Lesley Peeling I suggest you read my post. It certainly is not aimed at you. It is aimed at whoever hides behind the pseudonym Keefogs. Anyway I will now spell it out what I meant buy British fizz instead of French champagne..Plus forget your French cheeses buy British! Now I suppose all the the Europrats in Thanet will be up in arms. Tough cheddar!

      • Britain is now a post-industrial country and very dependent on imported goods. We would be in a stronger position if we had stayed in the EU. Now we have no MEPs to represent us in the European parliament. All we have is our current government.

  12. This meant to be because of new strain on covid 19 yawn which has been around since september. French and eu are using it as a pre Brexit Tantrum

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