The government is ramping up its preparations for the end of the Brexit transition period with the launch of a £200million fund for ports to build new facilities, including potential new infrastructure at Harwich and Felixstowe.
Ministers say new infrastructure at ports will be needed whether or not the UK secures a negotiated agreement with the EU, given the UK is leaving the customs union and single market and new procedures will be coming into place.
Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey said it represents “good news” for Felixstowe, which she represents, as well as nearby Harwich, for them to be ready for 2021 when the transition ends.
Essex county councillor Ivan Henderson said he hoped Harwich would make a bid to increase lorry capacity to decrease the risk of highway congestion.
He said: “I would hope they are putting a bid in for Harwich because of the roll-on, roll-off aspect.
“Containers at Felixstowe can be stacked. Roll on roll off takes up more space and once the port facility is full that will spill onto the highway.
“I would be interested to see if there are going to be any provisions to make sure there are holding areas so we don’t suffer any delays on the roads.
“Also what resources are Essex County Council going to have to supply and what is Tendring Council going to have to supply on the issue of health authority stuff?”
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, said: “We have listened to businesses and the border industry and will continue to work with them to deliver not just a fully operational border at the end of the transition period, but also the world’s most effective and secure border within the next five years.
“The launch of this £200 million fund will help us do just that.”
The funding can be used for a range of vital port infrastructure – from warehouses and control posts to traffic management systems.
The deadline for applications is October 30, with successful bids announced shortly after.
Hutchison, the company that owns Felixstowe and Harwich ports, said it was not in a position to answer details of any bid, but added it was unlikely there would be any implications for nearby roads either way.
The fund is targeted at those ports that have the space to build new border infrastructure on their current sites so that they are ready to handle new customs requirements under the new border operating model.
From January 2021 traders importing standard goods, covering everything from clothes to electronics, will need to prepare for basic customs requirements, such as keeping sufficient records of imported goods, and will have up to six months to complete customs declarations.
While tariffs will need to be paid on all imports, payments can be deferred until the customs declaration has been made. There will be checks on controlled goods like alcohol and tobacco. Businesses will also need to consider how they account for VAT on imported goods. There will also be physical checks at the point of destination or other approved premises on all high risk live animals and plants.
From April 2021 all products of animal origin (POAO) – for example meat, pet food, honey, milk or egg products – and all regulated plants and plant products will also require pre-notification and the relevant health documentation.
From July 2021 traders moving all goods will have to make declarations at the point of importation and pay relevant tariffs.
Full safety and security declarations will be required, while for sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) commodities there will be an increase in physical checks and the taking of samples: checks for animals, plants and their products will now take place at GB Border Control Posts.
Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, said: “Our ports are a point of pride for the UK, contributing to our success as a global trading nation and helping bring vital goods into the country each and every day.
“This investment will not only ensure our borders are fully operational at the end of the transition period, but will also support the UK’s fantastic businesses as they trade across Europe.
“Time is short and it is vital that UK businesses prepare for new border arrangements. We will work urgently with the Government on the all-important detail and related regulations.”