Tuesday, January 26, 2021

UK Money Made Available to Check EU Animal Product Imports

Kent Gets Lion's Share of Funding
Shipping News Feature

UK – EUROPE – Rightly or wrongly it is fair to say there has always existed a degree of distrust between the farming communities on either side of the channel. Each can point out perceived weaknesses, with the French particularly coming under scrutiny with accusations of tardiness in adopting agreed standards and the UK seen as favouring chemicals such as neonicotinoids, frowned upon elsewhere.

Post Brexit the UK has now taken action, doubtless to be mirrored across the water, to ensure checks are made on imported animal products from the EU. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has affirmed that £14 million in funding has been given to local authorities across England to help them maintain the UK’s standards on such imports. Farming, Fisheries and Food Minister Victoria Prentis said:

“We are rightly proud of our high standards of animal and plant goods, and we are determined to maintain them, while ensuring that operations at our ports continue to run smoothly. This funding will allow local authorities to play their part in maintaining standards and efficiency at our borders, while also providing investment in new jobs and infrastructure.”

The new checks will be introduced in a phased way, with documentary checks on animal products for human consumption starting from April 2021, followed by additional identity and physical checks at Border Control Posts from July 2021. Together with other checks on live animals, plants and plant products carried out by APHA, the new port checks are intended to safeguard public, animal and plant health.

Ashford Borough Council, which is receiving the greatest share of the investment to support the upgraded Sevington Inland Border Facility (IBF) built alongside Junction 10A of the M20, will carry out an estimated 124,000 checks on imports a year. Cllr Peter Feacey, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Wellbeing at the Council, said:

“The new service is an exciting challenge for us. The scale of the task is vast, logistically complex and extremely time sensitive. We are, however, fully committed to implementing the changes that are necessary and meeting our responsibilities.

“I am heartened by the support being provided by Defra, not only from a financial perspective but also practically in terms of designing and implementing this service in just a few months. I am sure that we will rise to the challenge before us and provide this nationally strategic service.”

Much was made of the new inland border facility at Sevington (apparently being better managed than the government’s proposed truck park at Stanford West which foundered for lack of attention to planning requirements) by the senior highways manager at Kent County Council, Toby Howe, who commented:

“Getting Sevington operational in time to play its part in traffic management plans for the UK’s departure from the EU was a huge undertaking. But the hard work hasn’t stopped there and now the focus is on transforming the facility into a fully-fledged Inland Border Facility to help trade flow without disrupting traffic. It’s fantastic to see the site plans moving forward and the job opportunities created for the local community in the process.

“Just as we did in preparation for the end of the Brexit transition period, the Kent Resilience Forum, including Kent Police, KCC and Highways England, will work closely with Ashford Borough Council to deliver this challenging, but exciting, project. It puts the town at the very heart of operations for the UK’s new trading arrangements with the EU.”