Operation Transmission, the Local Resilience Forum plan to support the flow of freight to the EU via Portsmouth International Port, is continuing its phased scale back ahead of the operation officially concluding at the end of March.
The Hampshire and Isle of Wight LRF has decided that continued good haulier compliance with EU paperwork means that traffic management measures at junctions 1 and 2 on the M275 (Tipner and Rudmore roundabout) can be removed and speed limits on the motorway and slip roads reinstated overnight on 11 March. Operation Transmission’s lorry triage sites on the A31 and Tipner in Portsmouth, which were partially decommissioned in mid-February, will also be scaled back further. The triage site at Tipner will continue to provide short-term EU exit resilience for the operation until the end of the month.
Operation Transmission was introduced to deal with the unique challenges presented by the end of the EU transition period and the government’s projected reasonable worst case scenario that up to 70% of lorries would not be border ready. The LRF is now confident that freight travelling to the EU can be effectively processed at the port gates without creating a negative impact on the local road network. Any future issues affecting the flow of traffic to the port and local roads will be responded to by the LRF and individual agencies, including the port, emergency services and local authorities, as appropriate.
Since the start of Operation Transmission on 1 January, over 4,000 lorries have been processed at the triage sites and over 2,000 directly at the port gates since 18 February, when the triage sites were partially decommissioned. Compliance has increased steadily over that time and been consistently strong in recent weeks, now standing at over 95% each day.
Mike Sellers, Portsmouth International Port’s director, said: “This has been a significant effort, with a range of organisations working together, at times in really difficult circumstances. There was huge uncertainty ahead of the EU exit, but haulier compliance was critical and we’re pleased to see those preparations continuing.
“I’d like to give my thanks to everyone involved, as we know it hasn’t been the easiest of the situations for anyone, but it’s been a really impressive outcome. We will continue to use the Tipner site for port related activity, as we manage the impact of EU exit on operations.”
Across the two main sites on the A31 and in Portsmouth, over 70 temporary jobs were created for the duration of the project, providing training and employment opportunities for local people, many of whom had been furloughed or made redundant as a result of the pandemic.
Chief Fire Officer and Strategic Coordinating Group Chair for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight LRF, Neil Odin commented: “We planned for the reasonable worst-case scenario when considering the impact of EU Exit on Hampshire’s strategic road network. I’d like to thank the hauliers involved who have ensured that their drivers have adopted the new processes for paperwork quickly and efficiently.
“I am so proud of everyone, from those at the Port to those who worked at the triage points, the staff in our LRF agencies, and the lorry drivers themselves. Everyone has played their part to make Operation Transmission a resounding success in mitigating risks to Hampshire’s strategic road network. In turn, this has given our communities confidence in the work we’ve been undertaking to achieve this outcome”.
Ahead of its stand down, the focus of the operation will be to ensure that each triage site and roadway used as part of the operation is left in better condition for road users than when the operation began. Road repairs are being undertaken and litter picks have collected waste from the roadsides and hedgerows along the A31, M275 and local roads around Portsmouth International Port.
Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: “I welcome the end of the speed restrictions on the M275 now that the LRF is confident that hauliers are prepared for new EU regulations and I’d like thank road users for their patience over the past few months. The smooth running of Operation Transmission has enabled the freight travelling to and from the EU to keep flowing freely into and through the port – a crucial shipping route for the UK – and helped to avoid the potential delays and disruption we could have seen.”
Councillor Rob Humby, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment at Hampshire County Council, said: “I’d like to thank the Local Resilience Forum for making this plan a success and to local residents and businesses around the A31 in Alresford and Winchester for their patience while the plan was operational. Restoration work on the road is already underway, including litter picking, sign cleaning and pothole repairs to ensure the site is left in good condition once it is fully decommissioned at the end of the month.”