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7th August 2015 - News Articles

Highways England Press notice: Details of how freight will be routed to reduce pressure on the M20 in Kent when there is disruption to cross-Channel services was announced by Highways England.

Highways England, in partnership with Kent County Council and Kent Police, have worked together on devising a route to divert certain freight traffic bound for the Port of Dover from the M20 to Manston Airfield in East Kent where it will be held until it can be directed to the Port of Dover (ferry services).

The use of Manston Airfield as a temporary option to help hold lorries as part of Operation Stack – a multi-agency response to deal with the transport disruption - was announced by the Government recently.

Operation Stack is currently not in place but as and when it is required this is how it will work:

  • All freight will first be stacked between junctions 8, Maidstone Services, and 9, Ashford, of the coastbound M20 and that section of the motorway will be closed to non-freight traffic.
  • If more space is needed the closed section will extend to junction 11, Westenhanger.


When Manston Airfield is in use during Operation Stack, the routes for freight will be:

  • Dover-bound freight coming from the West will use the M20 to junction 7, Maidstone, where it will be diverted via the A249, M2, and A299 to Manston.
  • Dover-bound freight coming from the North (Dartford Crossing) will use the A2, M2 and A299 to Manston.
  • From Manston, freight will use the A256 and A2 to Dover.
  • Channel Tunnel-bound freight will stay on the M20.


The routes for tourists will be:

  • Dover-bound tourist traffic will be encouraged to use the A2, M2 and A2.
  • If already on the M20 Dover-bound tourist traffic will be diverted off at junction 7, Maidstone, and via the A249, M2, and A2 to Dover.
  • Channel Tunnel-bound tourist traffic will use the M20 and A20 following the hollow circle diversion symbol.


The routes will be clearly signed and at various junctions along the M20, M2, and onward to Manston there will be either a Highways England, a Kent County Council Highways, or Kent Police patrol. Vehicle recovery resources will be at strategic pinch points to keep the route moving in the event of a breakdown and will work under the supervision of traffic officers.

Road users affected by Operation Stack are advised to plan ahead and check traffic conditions and advice from travel operators* before setting out; to leave plenty of time for journeys and while on the road to listen to travel news bulletins for latest information. Travellers are urged to particularly look out for local signs and electronic message boards that will guide them to their destinations.

The introduction of Manston Airfield into Operation Stack when required will provide short term additional capacity to help manage freight traffic on its way to Dover Port. It will work alongside the existing Operation Stack to help reduce disruption on the M20. The priority is to keep traffic and goods moving and ensure people on both sides of the Channel can go about their lives as normally as possible.

Highways England continues to work hard with partners including Kent County Council and local councils on medium to long term solutions to the disruption.



Operation Stack: route maps https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/operation-stack-route-maps

Operation Stack: freight guidance leaflets  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/operation-stack-freight-guidance-leaflet

Contact your travel operator before setting off on your journey. Here are a few useful numbers:


For the most up-to-date information:


General enquiries

Members of the public should contact the Highways England customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000.


Media enquiries

Journalists should contact the Highways England press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.


Information for Freight Drivers

Operation Stack Leaflet - English

Operation Stack Leaflet - French

Operation Stack Leaflet - German

Operation Stack Leaflet - Italian

Operation Stack Leaflet - Polish

Operation Stack Leaflet - Spanish

Operation Stack Map - French

Operation Stack Map - German

Operation Stack Map - Italian

Operation Stack Map - Polish

Operation Stack Map - Spanish

Operation Stack - Routes for Freight

Operation Stack - Routes for Tourist

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