There is no near end in sight for the latest implementation of Operation Stack according to Kent Police, meaning the delays could go beyond the weekend.
Operation Stack has been in force for 24 of the last 40 days, and Kent Police has warned that it will continue until the weekend at the very least.
The road closures could go on even longer, with a spokesman for Highways England saying: “It is very hard to put an end on this.”
The closures are a result of a combination of industrial action in Calais and a high level of migrants at the port. Due to the high volume of traffic and the Channel Tunnel not running at full capacity, the M20 motorway is currently closed from junctions 8-11 coastbound and from 9-8 on the London-bound carriageway, with freight transport parked up on the motorway.
This has had a knock-on effect for local businesses, with traffic heading down local roads such as the A20, A2, or M2 as well as smaller roads through nearby towns and villages.
“I don’t think we have had Operation Stack implemented as often as we have had this summer,” said the Highways England spokesman.
According to Jo James, chief executive of the Kent Chamber of Commerce, this has had a significant impact on local businesses. “The roads are totally congested and with the motorway shut all traffic has to go onto other roads,” she said.
“People aren’t able to get to businesses - we’re good producers in Kent, and there are lots of time-dependent goods on the road. If you are exporting goods then shelf life of goods goes down if you are stuck in the Stack.”
However, she hopes that the national focus on the issue might lead to a solution, saying: “In some ways it is good it has been this bad, as now it is on the national agenda. In the past the Government has seen it as a Kent problem.”
The current solution of parking lorries on the motorway cannot remain the long-term solution, according to the AA's Paul Watters. “It isn’t really an appropriate use for a motorway - they are strategic routes, especially for a port,” he said.
Peter Cullum, head of international affairs at the Road Haulage Association, agreed, saying: “Stack was a solution created for a problem of a few years ago, but the traffic is now getting to a limit.”
However, Cullum reckons that there is no single alternative to Operation Stack, saying: “Kent County Council are looking at alternative parking but the problem is that the Stack moves constantly. A truck park won’t help. It is the shuttling forward of traffic that causes the complexity - the Stack zone is not a static holding area, but a moving flow of traffic.”
According to Highways England there are plans in place for an alternative plan, with a spokesman saying: “There is a task force being led by the county council. We could build a new lorry park or repurpose some disused land to hold freight traffic, so that we don't have to close the M20.”
Despite the high volume of traffic backed up at Dover, the advice is not to seek alternative methods of crossing to the continent. Highways England says that it is still possible to continue with existing plans.
“The advice is to check before you travel with your service provider and see if there are any delays to the service, and to check the roads. The A2 and M2 are busy but flowing and we have been reporting delays of around 40 minutes,” said a spokesman. “I don’t think it is necessary to seek alternative crossings.”