Port hold-ups after Brexit of 'great concern' to Hull and Goole

The man in charge of overseeing food imports through Hull and Goole says he has “great concern” over the likelihood of a huge increase post-Brexit border checks. Almost all of the 150 million kilos of food imported through the Humber ports[1] every year destined for wholesalers and retailers across the UK come from the European Union. Under current EU freedom of movement rules which still apply until the end of the year, none of it is subject to port health or customs checks.

However, that is set to change next January with cabinet member Miichael Gove[2] recently confirming that border checks would be “inevitable” after the Brexit[3] transition period ends.

A new border control post is opening soon at King George Dock

He said: “The UK will be outside the single market and outside the customs union, so we will have to be ready for the customs procedures and regulatory checks that will inevitably follow.” Mr Gove confirmed importers will face sanitary checks, a requirement to produce export health certificates, make customs, safety and security declarations as well as some physical checks on products. Government officials have insisted that firms have enough time to prepare for the changes.

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But food industry bosses say border checks could quickly cause hold-ups at ports.

Now, in a new report, Hull and Goole chief port health officer Laurence Dettman has added his voice to growing worries over the impact of new border checks. He said: “The ramifications of any additional requirement for us to check the vast volumes of EU imported food which enter our ferry ports daily, are of great concern.

Port hold-ups after Brexit of 'great concern' to Hull and GooleFood imports from the EU will be subject to new border checks from next year

“The new Border Control Post at King George Dock, expected to be in operation soon, has been a very complex business and has taken well over a year to come to fruition. “Worryingly, it has not been designed to cope with the potential massive additional number of UK Border Control checks which may be required from January 2021.

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“The Humber Sea Terminal at North Killingholme, which is within the authority’s North Lincolnshire area of jurisdiction, also has an enormous daily volume of EU trade with an emphasis on food products of all types.

“Currently there are no suitable inspection facilities at the terminal.” Mr Dettman is one of just five inspectors at the Hessle Road-based port health health authority[4] which covers both banks of the Humber. The authority also has one part-time technical officer and two administrative staff.

Port hold-ups after Brexit of 'great concern' to Hull and GooleThe port of KIllingholme

He said said many questions still needed answering following the UK’s formal withdrawal from the EU on January 31 this year.

“There remains a great deal of unknown territory to be negotiated during the transition period and to what extent the regulatory landscape will change. “The authority has, at its core, responsibility for imported food controls at the border.

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“Increasingly over the last 47 years of EU membership, the UK has received vast amounts of imported food of all types with the enjoyment of freedom of movement, i.e. without any port health or customs checks. “Businesses are understandably extremely concerned and seem somewhat shell-shocked by the implications of Michael Gove’s statement.”

Port health authority members will meet next week to discuss his report.

References

  1. ^ Humber ports (www.hulldailymail.co.uk)
  2. ^ cabinet member Miichael Gove (www.hulldailymaiul.co.uk)
  3. ^ Brexit (www.hulldailymail.co.uk)
  4. ^ Hessle Road-based port health health authority (www.hulldailymail.co.uk)

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