HMRC changes Dover lorry park plan – but will customs posts be ready for new EU-to-GB border checks?

Fri 20 Aug 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

Plans for a 1,200-lorry customs clearance park in Dover have been overhauled, with the site downsized to a quarter of what was originally envisaged.

The application faced opposition from local residents in Kent and HMRC has confirmed the change of tack at a council meeting. As well as being smaller, with space for just 96 lorries, lighting will be low level and earth bunds will reduce noise.

January checks

The facility, in Guston, was due to carry out additional procedures required following Great Britain’s exit from the EU customs union, including customs declarations and physical health checks on food and animal imports. These new rules, known as the Border Operating Model, are due to commence on 1 January 2022.

Under the alternative plans, only HMRC checks will be conducted at the site, with physical health checks on chilled and frozen food, moved to an undisclosed site in nearby Whitfield, reports the Guardian.

A third site will be used to conduct checks on live animals.

Surprise decision

Members of the parish council who had opposed the facility were said to be “pleasantly surprised” by the decision.

HMRC confirmed to local people that the site will now be “long-term”, but that emergency planning approval will only last until December 2025 and a full planning consultation will take place if the site is required beyond that date.

Building work on the lorry park is not due to start until February or March 2022, so is unlikely to be ready before the summer, six months after checks start. This could mean lorries being diverted to a site closer to the Eurotunnel exit in Folkestone.

Customs readiness

There were concerns earlier this year that new customs facilities for EU-to-GB imports would not be ready in time, reported the Guardian.

A £17.1m border control post at Portsmouth is due to be completed in time for the new Border Operating Model rule changes coming into force on 1 January 2022, according to Portsmouth Port.

However, plans for HMRC facilities at Holyhead in Wales are still at the stage of trying to identify a site, according to a report in Business Live.

Hull Daily Mail reports that the Hull port health authority is recruiting to triple its workforce to deal with post-Brexit food import checks.