Scottish council urged to learn from Larne border control post ‘experience’
A North Channel Partnership group has said it would be “useful for Dumfries and Galloway to learn from Mid and East Antrim’s experience” of a border control post.
The Partnership, which is comprised of councillors and officers from the Scottish council and the local authority, is working with other bodies including ferry companies to progress shared interests such as ports and infrastructure including a long-awaited upgrade of the A75/A77 routes in Scotland.
A report to Mid and East Antrim Borough Council said: “The two councils had agreed to share information and establish a joint group of officers to look at the way in which those new requirements that impact on both local authorities in terms of import/export functions were going to be carried out.
“Unlike Dumfries and Galloway Council, Mid and East Antrim Borough had a border control post established, which was up and running. The group felt it would be useful for Dumfries and Galloway to learn from Mid and East Antrim’s experience.”
The border post at the Port of Larne has been operational since January 1.
The report to Mid and East Antrim councillors also indicated that the council “continues to closely monitor the situation at the port and was working the ensure the new administrative processes were implemented as efficiently as possible”.
Twelve environmental health officers employed by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to carry out checks were withdrawn from the Port of Larne last month over concerns for their security after threatening graffiti appeared in the town. They returned to their roles four days later following a PSNI threat assessment and council risk assessment.
Speaking at Monday evening’s meeting of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Larne Lough Alliance Councillor Danny Donnelly – a member of the North Channel Partnership – said: “I have been very strongly in support of this project. It is always good to work with people on a shared project.”
He also noted that the road upgrade would be of benefit to Mid and East Antrim.
Coast Road Councillor Maureen Morrow stated that “progress is being made especially on the tourism front”.
Larne Lough DUP Councillor Gregg McKeen, who proposed a motion affirming the council’s opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol at the same meeting, opposed by the Alliance Party, remarked that Cllr Donnelly is “now a champion of union connectivity through the North Channel Partnership”.
Alliance Larne Lough Councillor Robert Logan replied: “Cllr McKeen can rest assured the Alliance Party is fully behind all sorts of east-west co-operation”.
Larne Lough Ulster Unionist Councillor Keith Turner requested the council’s chief executive to ask if customs infrastructure is being developed in the port of Cairnryan.
According to the Scottish Government website, a post published last week said that a new border control post is to be created at Cairnryan in Dumfries and Galloway.
The Cairnryan border control post will be used to “inspect goods arriving in Scotland from the Republic of Ireland and the wider EU via Northern Ireland, and the UK Government requires that it is established in the second half of 2021”.
It was also stated that checks on animals, fish, plants, food and feed are required to ensure products entering the market do not present a risk to public health.
It said that once an appropriate site has been selected, planning consent will have to be obtained before construction can get underway.
It was reported that 2.59m tonnes of freight entered the ports at Cairnryan and Lochryan in 2019, which equates to approximately 400,000 freight movements.
It was also said that an alternative route for these goods would need to be found if a border control post at Cairnryan is not provided.
Subject to Parliamentary approval, a SDO (Special Development Order), a contingency measure to ensure the project can continue “at pace”, will come into effect on March 25.
Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter
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