A new scheme is being trialled to help manage traffic on the crucial M20 motorway linking the port of Dover with the M25, in the event of Brexit blockages.

Highways England and its partners in the Kent Resilience Forum are carrying out a live test to mobilise a moveable barrier system on a section of the M20 from Friday 11 December.

The barrier will be used to create a new layout with a contraflow system. Once deployed, this will allow traffic to continue travelling in both directions on the motorway at the same time as port-bound HGVs are queued, if necessary, on the coastbound carriageway until they can travel through to the Port of Dover or Eurotunnel.

The barrier is part of Operation Brock, a series of measures aimed at keeping the M20 open in both directions during periods of cross-Channel disruption. During the test the barrier will be installed and then removed.

According to Highways England, the barrier is much quicker to deploy than previous systems which took weeks to install and remove, and allows more traffic to continue using the motorway, off local roads. It plays a key part in managing any disruption at the ports after the EU exit date of 31 December 2020.

Highways England south-east operations director Nicola Bell said: 'We have again worked extensively with our partners in Kent and are confident that this test will provide a valuable dress rehearsal into the operation of our Kent-wide port disruption contingency measures. The test will help us to fine tune Operation Brock, finding ways to make the deployment quicker whenever the barrier is needed, whether it be in preparation for transition, or other disruption to cross-channel services.'

Transport secretary Grant Shapps added: 'Kent is a critical link to one of our busiest trade routes, and this state-of-the-art technology will ensure that we can keep the local road network moving.

'Testing this barrier now will ensure that if the system is needed it can be quickly and safely deployed, helping drivers get to where they need to be - even in the event of disruption at the end of the transition period and to assist with any other future disruption caused for any reason.'

At the end of the test the barrier will be returned to the London-bound hard shoulder.