The government has announced a £200m ports infrastructure fund to help British ports adapt to the new UK-EU trading environment after transition ends on 31 December 2020.
With less than three months until the end of the transition period , ports can apply for grants to install new order processing facilities, such as warehouses, control posts and traffic management systems.
The fund is part of a £470m investment package announced in July.
The £200m is targeted at ports that have the space to build new border infrastructure on their sites and are ready to handle new customs requirements under the new Border Operating Model. Sites that do not have space can apply for the remaining £270 to build inland customs facilities.
New border plan
The Border Operating Model is the government’s plan for the movement of goods between the UK and EU from 1 January 2021.
Announced in July, cabinet minister Michael Gove said it would “assist the smooth movement of goods and will also help us to lay the foundations for the world’s most effective border by 2025".
However, recent reports have warned of border chaos in January.
A leaked government memo following a meeting with the logistics industry spoke of “critical gaps” in the plan and said that the industry was concerned that the current model for post-transition trade was “unmanageable”.
'Clock is ticking’
Richard Ballantyne, chief executive of the British Ports Association (BPA), said the clock was ticking and that there was a lot to be done to prepare port infrastructure for a significant change in the trading relationship with the EU.
“It’s clear that without support there would not be the capacity to deal [with] the new customs and borders requirements," Ballantyne said. "We therefore welcome this scheme which importantly will be open to all port operators across Great Britain.”
BPA indicated that Roll-on Roll-off (Ro-Ro) operators will have the greatest interest in applying as the sector has the most to do to adapt to new requirements.
Three-phased border changes
New border controls for trade with the EU are being implemented in three phases for GB traders.
From January, GB traders importing standard goods will need to prepare for basic customs requirements, such as keeping records of imported goods, and will have up to six months to complete customs declarations.
From April, all animal and plant products will also require pre-notification and the relevant health documentation.
Finally, from July, importers will have to make declarations at the point of import and pay all relevant tariffs.
Ports that handle 10,000 lorries a day must apply for funding by noon on 30 October.
The other £270m will be allocated to inland customs facilities to support ports without space in their area.