The haulage industry has slammed the DfT and Highways England for failing to give hauliers advance warning of a series of overnight closures on the M26, which began last week.

The closures are part of Operation Brock, the government’s contingency plan that will enable the M26, parts of the M20 and the disused Manston Airport in Kent to be used as lorry parks if a no-deal Brexit results in congestion at the Channel ports.

The M26 works saw site surveys take place over five nights last week. The 16km stretch will also be closed overnight from 19 November to 21 December to allow for the installation of gates in the central reservation.

FTA head of UK policy Chris Snelling told MT: “We would expect to get at least two weeks’ notice so our members can plan around the works. We’ve had no good explanation from the DfT or from Highways England as to why we were not informed earlier.

"The logistics industry needs to know in advance when such a significant piece of the network is to be closed. This is immensely disruptive to our members.”

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Snelling also criticised the DfT’s decision to include the M26 in Operation Brock without consulting the freight industry.

“We were made aware of various options but not told the M26 option had been chosen nor were we party to any discussions as to how that decision was reached or what would work best. We feel we have been left in the dark.”

RHA policy and public affairs head Rod McKenzie told MT: “This decision is baffling and indicates a government in complete chaos.”

He added that the extent of the contingency planning is “clear evidence that a no-deal Brexit would be disastrous for the UK supply chain”.

A Highways England statement said the works were part of “wider resilience planning” ordered by the DfT to allow “the M26 to hold HGVs, should further capacity be required in the future”.

It added that the works involved site surveys and “the installation of two gates in the central reservation to support the safe management of freight in the future, if needed”.

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