The future of UK Brexit border checks on EU goods is in question, and ports want compensation for the investments made in good faith.

Full post-Brexit sanitary and phytosanitary border checks were due to be implemented in July, but the date has been pushed back for the fourth time. The border controls will not come into force this year, and the UK government is targeting the end of 2023 for an overhauled border checks system.

Sanitary and phytosanitary inspections are carried out on plants and animals to protect animal, plant and public health, but the government said delaying enforcement would save trade costs of £1bn at a time of rising cost of living in the UK.

UK ports have invested in infrastructure ahead of the July deadline and are now concerned that their investment in border control posts will be for nothing.

Tim Morris, CEO of the UK Major Ports Group, said: “Many ports have been working incredibly hard and have invested over £100 million of their own money to build a network of brand new border checks to meet the requirements the Government has been insisting on for several years. This now looks like wasted time, effort, and money to develop what we fear will be highly bespoke white elephants.”

The British Ports Association said it was concerned that the industry will be left to pick up the pieces, and that the sector will press government for compensation “immediately”.

Richard Ballantyne, Chief Executive of the British Ports Association, said: “This announcement is a major policy change, meaning the [Border Control Posts] will effectively become white elephants, wasting millions of pounds of public and private funding, not to mention the huge effort there has been to get things ready in time.”

Ports will have to stop recruiting for staff to operate the facilities, said the association, and want urgent clarification from policy makers as to whether they can bulldoze the border posts to repurpose sites.

Source: Seatrade UK