UK ports have called on the government to compensate them for delaying post-Brexit checks by more than a year and a half.
According to the ports, the government delays on checks on European animals and plants announced last week mean that the high-tech facilities built for the inspections will remain empty until the end of 2023, costing the industry around £300m.
“This now looks like wasted time, effort and money to develop what we fear will be highly bespoke white elephants,” trade body UK Major Ports Group told the Financial Times today.
The government argued that delays will end up saving the industry £1bn, despite ports building the infrastructure and hiring personnel.
“Ports will benefit from streamlined processes and reduced congestion as a result of these controls no longer going ahead in July,” a government spokesperson said.
Commenting on the news, Mike Sellers, Portsmouth International Port’s director, rebutted saying: “We now face significant capital liability on a building for which the future is uncertain,”
“This has always been raised as a concern with ministers and their officials and we will be pursuing compensation from the government as we look to recover costs.”
Despite reassurances from the government side that it will engage with single ports to resolve the situation by mid-May, UK Major Ports Group said the whole industry wants to go the negotiating table as one.
“Whilst we appreciate the offer to engage individually with ports on a limited range of local mitigations, these don’t address the biggest issues — the recovery of investment already made and the future of the facilities developed,” said UK Major Ports Group’s chief executive Tim Morris.