The British Government is to use up to 150 trucks in a major test of its plans for UK border disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit. A “live test” on Monday will examine the proposal to use Manston airfield near Ramsgate as a mass “HGV holding facility” to alleviate congestion on the roads to the Channel ports, the Department for Transport has confirmed.
In a letter to haulers, obtained by Sky News, DfT and Kent County Council officials say they would run tests during the morning rush hour at 8am, and again at 11am, to “establish the safest optimum release rate of HGVs” from the airfield to Dover along the A256.
It said it would pay for 100-150 haulers from the local area to take part in the test of Operation Brock.
The news came after it was reported that Theresa May was due to speak with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker as she seeks added flexibility in the Withdrawal Agreement.
MPs are due to debate the PM’s Brexit deal on Wednesday ahead of a meaningful vote the following week but the EU has yet to offer any changes.
A DfT spokeswoman said: “We do not want or expect a no-deal scenario and continue to work hard to deliver a deal with the EU. However, it is the duty of a responsible Government to continue to prepare for all eventualities and contingencies, including a possible no deal.
“We will be testing part of Operation Brock to ensure that, if it needs to be implemented, the system is fully functional.”
Congestion at the Channel ports caused by the reintroduction of customs checks on goods has been one of the most commonly cited negative impacts of a no-deal withdrawal from the EU at the end of March.