Ports may need more space for customs checks post-Brexit, MPs told

Great Yarmouth Port Company Limited trading as Peel Ports Great Yarmouth.
The newest and largest ve

Great Yarmouth Port Company Limited trading as Peel Ports Great Yarmouth. The newest and largest vessel in the Seajacks fleet called Scylla docked in the outer harbour. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

Ports may need bigger areas for customs checks post-Brexit, the owner of Great Yarmouth port has told MPs.

The Home Affairs Commons committee was told that shipping containers which are selected for inspection by authorities can remain in port estates for between two and four days.

Graeme Charnock, chief financial officer of the Peel Ports Group, which owns Great Yarmouth port said: 'If we are going to increase the dwell time that means we need increased areas, possibly warehouses as well.

'On a busy port estate there are constraints around being able to deal with that.'

His comments came as MPs were warned that an increase in customs checks at ports could 'seriously disrupt' the smooth transit of freight traffic into the UK.

James Hookham, deputy chief executive of the Freight Transport Association, said there is a 'very free-flowing' movement of traffic under the current arrangements.

'Many businesses in the UK rely on smooth transit of traffic into and out of the European Union to keep their supply chains at the required levels,' he said.

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'The introduction of checks, especially at the ports, could seriously disrupt that and require very significant reconfiguration of Britain's supply chain.'

He expressed hope that the Prime Minister's aim of securing 'frictionless' cross-border trade could be achieved.

But he also warned that customs and other organisations need to 'invest sufficiently to preserve as close as possible the levels of service and reliability through our ports as we have at the moment'.

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