Vaughan Gething, Minister for Economy
As a result of leaving the EU and the end of the UK’s membership of the Single Market and Customs Union, substantial new infrastructure is required to deliver sanitary and phytosanitary controls on certain goods arriving in Wales on ferries from the island of Ireland, in order to protect our biosecurity and food safety. At the same time, I want to ensure that upcoming changes to border arrangements are delivered with minimum disruption and uncertainty for businesses and local communities in Wales, for those using our ports, whilst crucially, protecting our food supply chain.
The Welsh Government inherited the UK Government’s policy commitment to develop inland Border Control Posts (BCP) where ports could not accommodate them.
This Government has always had an expectation that the UK Government would fund these facilities, as the introduction of border checks and the required infrastructure is a new pressure, caused by Brexit.
Since the Spending Review, the UK Government has agreed in principle to fund build costs for both permanent and interim facilities upon submission of a reserve claim, supported by business cases for North and South West Wales. Only those costs which are absolutely necessary up to and including 2024-25 will be considered. While the UK Government has conditionally agreed to fund the construction costs of the BCPs, it has explicitly said it will not meet the operational costs.
The UK Government is planning documentary, identity and physical checks on goods at border control posts from July 2022, with checks on products of animal origin being introduced in phases, commencing from July and completed by November 2022. Checks on live animals are expected to continue to take place at destination until there are sufficient facilities around Great Britain.
The UK Government has once again extended staged controls for all movements of goods from the island of Ireland to Great Britain beyond 1 January 2022; raising another uncertainty for the Government and others who have to make preparations.
We have previously confirmed a commitment to deliver permanent and interim arrangements at Holyhead. I expect to be able to appoint a contractor for the Holyhead site shortly, but the facility will not be ready for July 2022.
I am therefore exploring interim arrangements at Welsh ferry ports to bridge the gap between the introduction of new controls in July 2022 and the finalisation of the permanent BCPs. This would constitute a ‘mixed’ regime whereby a basic level of checks will be completed at the temporary facilities in conjunction with continued checks at destination for certain commodities.
We are developing these plans with input from the local authorities, relevant enforcement agencies (including the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and Border Force), as well as the ports.
This approach will allow commodities to continue to flow through the ferry ports, while ensuring checks are carried out to limit risk to biosecurity and food safety. After July 2022, we can consider the enduring arrangements for Pembrokeshire.