No-deal Brexit could see Humber Bridge car park used as lorry stacking site

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 6 Mar 2019

The Humber Bridge car park has been earmarked as an emergency site for lorry stacking if Brexit causes delays at the Humber ports.

Contingency plans for the UK leaving the European Union later this month without a deal have been drawn up by a regional body normally charged with planning for major incidents, such as extreme weather or chemical spills.

Although details are still being kept under wraps, members of the Hull and Goole Port Health Authority were told this week the bridge's main car park would provide temporary holding spaces for lorries if queuing became a problem at the ports.

Chief port health inspector Laurence Dettman said he was hopeful there would not be queues after the UK government recently announced that, in the event of a no-deal exit, food imports from EU countries would not be subjected to port health checks on arrival here, at least for an unspecified transitional period.

Hull and Goole Chief Port Health Inspector Laurence Dettman (Image: Hull Daily Mail)

But he warned problems could start with UK products going in the opposite direction with the EU intending to apply full border checks from the end of the month.

"This means that UK goods may be the subject of some delay on entry to the EU," he said.

"This in turn could impact traffic flows within the UK if goods are stopped, ferry schedules are missed and, in some cases, products have to be returned for whatever reason.

"There could be a knock-on effect because we have been trading the same way for 40 years and suddenly, overnight, things are going to change."

Read more: Fears there won't be enough staff to check imports on the Humber after Brexit

He said there were high risks associated with importing and exporting perishable foods, with a particular concern over people traffickers targeting lorries caught up in delays at European ports.

Almost all of the 150 million kilos of food imported through the Humber ports every year destined for wholesalers and retailers across the UK comes from the EU.

Hull's port carries cargo to countries across the globe (Image: Pete Harbour)

Mr Dettman said fish processing firms on both sides of the Humber who export to Europe faced extra pressures because, under Brexit, the industry would be required to produce export certification for each consignment for the first time in decades.

He also again highlighted the increased workload being created by Brexit while not having sufficient staff to cope with the likely demand.

Read more: Hull port chief raises concerns about what Brexit means for food checks

This, he claimed, could lead to authority inspectors carrying out fewer ship visits as they juggled new demands involving increased paperwork.

He said: "I do support the principal of a 'light touch' for EU imports as an interim business support measure but, in the longer term, we must maintain our vigilance and should not compromise UK food safety and security in any way.

"Food fraud is increasing worldwide and opportunists may already be seeking ways to exploit any perceived weaknesses in our UK port controls."



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