The UK government has launched a £200M port infrastructure fund to help build new facilities as the Brexit transition period end draws closer
The scheme will provide funding in one-off grants to ports and is targeted at ports that have the space to build new border infrastructure at their existing current sites so that they are ready to handle new customs requirements under the new border operating model.
The funding can be used for a range of vital port infrastructure – from warehouses and control posts to traffic management systems.
Speaking on behalf of port representatives, UK Major Ports Group’s CEO Tim Morris said "Time is short and it is vital that UK businesses prepare for new border arrangements. We will work urgently with the Government on the all-important detail and related regulations.”
He added “There is significant port capacity around the coast of the UK for handling freight flows to and from the EU. Today’s announcement is a welcome step in ensuring that this capacity can be maximised and UK supply chains can be more resilient.”
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is impacting businesses’ ability to prepare for the end of the transition period and the UK has taken the decision to introduce new border controls in three stages up until 1 July 2021.
By opening the fund, the UK government said it hopes to help ports accelerate their preparations for the end of the year, as well as give industry confidence that all required infrastructure will be delivered on time.
The trade body, the British Ports Association (BPA) welcomed the move. Chief executive, Richard Ballantyne said “It’s clear that without support there would not be the capacity to deal the new customs and borders requirements. We therefore welcome this scheme which importantly will be open to all port operators across Great Britain.
The clock is definitely ticking and a lot of work still needs to be done but this will help overcome a significant hurdle. We will continue to work with government to help shape a border strategy that works for the UK’s freight sector.”
Where infrastructure is not best situated at ports, the government said it has allocated an additional £270M to build inland customs facilities. The deadline for applications is midday on 30 October, with successful bids announced shortly after.