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UKWA calls for inland food inspections after Brexit

[ August 22, 2018   //   ]

The United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA) has called on the Government to legislate to allow foodstuffs entering the country to be inspected inland – instead of ports – to ease the flow of goods after Brexit.

Speaking on the BBC’s Ten O’Clock News programme on 21 August 21st UKWA chief executive Peter Ward, said: “Currently food inspections must be conducted within the port boundary, but after Brexit this will be impractical” – pointing out that 44% of what the nation eats enters the UK at Dover from the EU. This is the equivalent of 1000 trucks per day through the port on ferries and the tunnel.

Ward added: “Inspecting this food in a manner consistent with Rest Of World (ROW) rules from March 2019 is going to present a major challenge. For instance, the port of Dover doesn’t have the necessary plug-in points to power temperature-controlled vehicles, which means the only way to ensure that food remains cool while awaiting inspection will be to keep diesel engines running – which will add cost and impact on the environment.

“The lack of adequate inspection facilities at Ro/Ro ports, such as Dover, will result in unprecedented delays and after Brexit there will simply not be sufficient capacity nor the infrastructure to cope, so an interruption in food supply chains seems inevitable.”

Allowing food inspections to be carried out at inland storage facilities would, UKWA contend, allow existing storage premises to be adapted to accommodate inspection regimes and deliver the necessary extra capacity more quickly.

But Peter Ward acknowledges that, given the huge volumes involved, any new inland food inspection facilities would have to be located close to both power supply and a sustainable labour pool, which in turn will trigger other concerns.

“The question is how resistance of local residents to large warehousing and distribution developments will be balanced against the need to ensure the nation continues to be fed,” he said.

In the meantime, UKWA is advising its members to prepare for a no-deal Brexit and the 300,000 business that currently trade with the EU only to obtain the correct customs classification for the goods they import, apply for deferment accounts or find partners and/or trade association that can help them prepare for the potentially difficult times ahead.

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