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With just under six months to go, work is continuing at pace to prepare for the most significant changes to customs and health check import requirements in a generation, as the construction for Portsmouth International Port’s Border Control Post (BCP) moves into its next significant phase.

Know as the Border Operating Model, from 1st January 2022 facilities are set to be in place to manage physical checks on imports. Following a £17.1 million investment from the UK Government’s Ports Infrastructure Fund, this is one of the largest investment projects in the port’s history, and will generate more than 100 new posts required for port health, operations, customs and Border Force operations.

The new purpose-built facilities, which meet DEFRA specifications for checking plants and products of animal origin, will also include refrigerated units for chilled and frozen products, inspection rooms and cross-docking abilities, so that cargo can be unloaded and checked with ease.

DEFRA will also support funding for veterinary and port health staff, as they will need to work in shifts to inspect food and plant produce.

Mike Sellers, Portsmouth International Port Director said: “The whole team is working incredibly hard to transform port operations from next year.

“We’d like to thank the government for recognising the country’s second busiest cross channel port, and providing vital financial support needed to implement fundamental changes.

“Our contractors are underway on this huge development project and you’ll start to see the BCP taking shape.

“Brand new facilities will be created, which required extra land because we were already at capacity.

“This has allowed us to expand and will be able to increase our role a key port, providing critical routes for UK-EU trade serving the western channel and providing resilience against the challenges of the short crossings in Kent.

“Ports are integral to the economic recovery of the country as we face the outcome of the pandemic and we are now in a position to create industry leading facilities.

“Due to a shortfall in funding, we regretfully have not been able to support a live animal health check facility, necessary to check the welfare of UK animals used for breeding in the EU. However, If required, our construction plans would be ready to go should further funds become available.

“Green credentials are also at the forefront of our plans, as any new development has to meet our target to become the UK’s first net carbon neutral port by 2030.”

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Leader of Portsmouth City Council, added: “Our port is a huge asset and contributor to the city and the region.

“We have long since made the case that the port needs to be considered when it comes to government support and this funding will support job creation and provide a much needed boost for the city as we come out of this pandemic and prepare for how we manage goods in this country.

“However, the cost of the BCP exceeds the amount given by government, so even though this is a government decision the council will have to fund the shortfall as this infrastructure is critical to the port’s import trade.”

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