The move is part of Cabinet minister Michael Gove’s plan to spend £470m on sites to process freight going to and from the EU.
The new checks and systems will apply whether or not there is a free trade deal. IT systems are being developed to check trucks have the right paperwork before reaching ports.
Five sites are likely to be in Kent and are expected to be operational by 1 January, when the UK leaves the customs union and single market.
A field near Whitfield in Kent is one of the sites that could be converted into a lorry park. Others in Kent include one at Manston Airport near Ramsgate, which has capacity for 5,800 trucks, and a site at Waterbrook Park in Ashford, with space for about 950 lorries. Work started last week on another site in the same town.
The sites overall are expected to handle up to 400m customs declarations a year. HM Revenue & Customs is writing to 12,000 businesses trading with the EU – who up to now have not had to fill in customs declarations – warning them of the changes ahead.
Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said that government estimates of 400m customs declarations a year would add £12.8bn in costs to British business.
The new trading system will be phased in over six months with checks on food and goods of animal origin, as well as customs declarations on imports and exports at the border by July next year.
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said last month the government is seeking to buy five sites in Kent for customs checks.
“Preparations for the end of the transition period are well underway to ensure the free flow of freight across our borders,” the government said in a statement. “This includes exploring options for permanent facilities to complete new border processes, as well as contingency plans in place to minimise any potential short-term disruption.”
Source: Global Cold Chain News