Agenda item

Covid-19 and Brexit Update

The Port Health & Public Protection Director to provide an oral update on the latest position.   


The Committee received an oral update from the Port Health and Public Protection Director concerning COVID-19 and the UK's impact of leaving the EU (Brexit) on Port Health & Public Protection.


Although airline activity at HARC during the period was around 25% of pre-COVID levels, greater numbers of pets continue to arrive on each flight, with the team dealing with a record number of animals each month. Port Health has also not slowed down with throughput 30% up on last year, a continuing upward trend. 


Members were advised that DP World had announced a £300m investment in a fourth berth at London Gateway Port demonstrating their confidence in the UK and the opportunities it presents. 


On 14 September, the Government confirmed there would be a further delay to the implementation of border controls on EU food and feed. Under the revised timetable:

·         The requirements for pre-notification of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) goods, which were due to be introduced on 1 October 2021, will now be introduced on 1 January 2022;

·         The new requirements for Export Health Certificates, which were due to be introduced on 1 October 2021, will now be introduced on 1 July 2022;

·         Phytosanitary Certificates and physical checks on SPS goods at Border Control Posts, due to be introduced on 1 January 2022, will now be introduced on 1 July 2022;

·         Safety and Security declarations on imports will be required as of 1 July 2022 as opposed to 1 January 2022;

·         Full customs declarations and controls will be introduced on 1 January 2022 as previously announced.


This would give the ports and trade more time to prepare for border controls although in practice, no enforcement role would be undertaken and no levy charges likely until July 2022.


Members were informed that the Port Health service had recruited well with only three posts still to recruit and for which there are live recruitment processes. An additional 10 staff have been requested based on the latest Defra/HMRC projections, which could more than double the current workload. 


The issue of funding for 2022/23, until the border controls are implemented, was raised with Defra who are discussing continued support with the Treasury. Officers await further details next month. This would also have an impact on live animal checks, which are now unlikely to come into force until the end of 2022.


In response to a question regarding the challenges of animal feed on the south of the river, Officers confirmed two ports on the south coast and facilities were being developed to accept high risk food and feed. As there were less vessels in Kent, the ports could be used strategically.