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UK government publishes legislation on border posts at NI ports

The government has published legislation which will allow UK ministers to order the construction of border posts at NI ports.

The government says it relates to its plan to replace the Northern Ireland Protocol.


The proposals involve a "green lane" for goods from Great Britain (GB) which are staying in Northern Ireland.


A "red lane" will be used to check and control GB goods going on to the Republic of Ireland and the wider EU.


The government said the red lane will require the "enhancement" of existing facilities at points of entry.


Under the government plans GB goods which are staying in NI would enter through the green lane, meaning they would not be subject to routine checks and would have minimal paperwork.


The legislation says that the Secretary of State may do anything they consider appropriate for the purpose of constructing facilities for performing official controls as laid out in EU rules.


It adds that the secretary of state may direct a competent authority to recruit and employ a sufficient number of suitably qualified staff to carry out checks.


The legislation will also empower a UK minister do this "irrespective of whether any matter has been brought to the attention of, or discussed and agreed by, the Executive Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly."


The protocol means that currently all commercial agri-food products entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain have to go through makeshift facilities at Northern Ireland ports.


For example, the main Belfast facility comprises temporary buildings and marquees.


In 2020, before the protocol was implemented, sites for permanent facilities were identified, planning consent was achieved and contractors were appointed - but nothing was built.


Late last year the UK Minister for Biosecurity Lord Benyon said: "The government's position has always been that the arrangements in place for the red lane will require the enhancement of existing facilities at points of entry in Northern Ireland.


"The necessary construction has not taken place to date owing to wider concerns about the protocol's implementation.


"However, acting to deliver these facilities is pivotal to securing a viable and sustainable way forward on the protocol in relation to EU-destined goods."



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