Member Briefing - M20 Traffic Management
The Corporate Director Growth, Environment and Transport, Senior Highway Manager and Highways England’s (HE) Head of Operational Integration gave a presentation to the Board.
The Corporate Director highlighted that the possible congestion throughout Kent depended on trader and freight readiness and the up-take of a web-portal designed to issue access permits; green for ready freight’s or red for those unprepared. The work would apply to exports, as import controls were delayed until 1 July 2021. The modelling assumption provided was to prepare for up to 7,000 freight for up to two days at any given time. Five sites had been secured, with Super Development Plans provided to ensure planning regulations were obtained for the sites. Instruments for enforcement were to be reviewed shortly.
The importance of local partnerships and multi-agency co-operation was highlighted, with the draft traffic management plan having changed due to the addition of the Sevington site and removal of the M26. It was reiterated that the plan was subject to change, due to outstanding information. Concurrent emergencies were being planned for, due to the prevalence of Covid-19 and possible weather-based emergencies. The draft plans would be tested, which included compliance and enforcement plans, with local and national communication necessary.
The Senior Highway Manager outlined the plans drafted for different traffic management scenarios. From 1 January 2021, the Ebbsfleet and Sevington sites would be used as HMRS sites, with the permit system in place. Prioritised freight would be given a unique permit and be directed to use the A2, Detling Hill and follow the contraflow.
Several Members of the Board highlighted the importance of signage to prevent Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) from using and parking on ill-equipped local roads. The Corporate Director Growth, Environment and Transport referenced the compliance and enforcement plan, to confirm that HGVs would be fined for deviating from the approved route provided within the permit issued. Enforcement could be improved if KCC were informed of HGV whereabouts, with points of contact to be provided.
Central Government had been engaging with larger companies to convey the importance of the pre-approved routes, with freight readiness integral to successful traffic management. Effective national, local and partnership communication was reinforced throughout the discussion. It was confirmed that 7k vehicles was the highest holding capacity possible and that Operation STACK would be used if necessary.
The Head of Operational Integration (HE) confirmed that whilst highways work would continue to be scheduled, none would occur if there was existing traffic disruption. Minimal overnight closures could be considered. HE had a strategic signage plan in place to manage separate traffic incidents that may affect the traffic management plans.
There was concern expressed about the suitability of Detling Hill for prioritised freight, with the Senior Highways Manager confirming that Kent Police had favoured its use. In reference to comments on the shared responsibility for diversion routes, the Senior Highway Manager highlighted the creation of the Kent Corridor Co-Ordination Group.
The importance of satellite navigation system was highlighted in preventing unapproved route usage.
The Board expressed thanks for the presentation provided.
RESOLVED: That the information provided within the Member Briefing be noted.