British government must provide clarity on Warrenpoint Port facility says Hazzard.
Sinn Féin South Down MP Chris Hazzard has said the British government need to provide urgent clarity to Warrenpoint Harbour and the local community regarding arrangements for post-Brexit checks at the South Down Port.
In recent days it has been revealed that a new 40,000 square-foot checking facility is being proposed at Warrenpoint in order for the North of Ireland’s second biggest Port to be compliant with post-Brexit trading regulations on 1st January 2021.
The South Down MP said: “As a result of Brexit and the need for enhanced checks at the North’s sea ports, the Warrenpoint Harbour Authority and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) have been working round the clock in recent weeks to submit plans for a significant new checking facility at Warrenpoint in order to comply with Brexit regulations.
“This would involve the construction of a large inspection facility, office space and HGV parking bays. And given the approaching Brexit deadline, it needs to be done as soon as possible in order for trade to continue post Brexit in 6 months time.
“Yet there is still much confusion as to what exactly is being proposed; who is footing the bill; and when construction will commence. The British Government must urgently put its cards on the table and bring some transparency to this process.
“Moreover, due to the submission deadlines and the fact that the proposed site is located within the ‘development rights’ of the Harbour, the opportunity for the local community to participate in a meaningful consultation process is virtually non-existent.
“Given the likely impact of this new facility on the adjacent Area of Specific Scientific Interest (ASSI) and the location of it so close to the scenic Narrow Water Gateway to the town, its vitally important the community and local public representatives have an opportunity to view the plans as soon as possible.
“Such a large-scale development calls for a ‘belt and braces’ approach to landscape management and I would hope that the Harbour Authority, DAERA, and Newry Mourne & Down Council will ensure that the community are informed as soon as possible as to what this will involve and how we can build upon these environmental mitigations in the future to protect the very sensitive environmental and wildlife heritage of the nearby area.”
Mr Hazzard added: “The local community appreciate the fact that this new facility is a consequence of the British government’s reckless Brexit policy, and that these checks are required in order to protect our all-island economy and our unique and special circumstances as outlined in the Irish Protocol.
“However, that does not give the British Government, DAERA, nor the Warrenpoint Harbour Authority the freedom to ignore the views and interests of the local community regarding any potential impact of this facility.
“Warrenpoint Harbour Authority and the local community need urgent clarity from both the British government and DAERA on this matters, and I will be writing to the British government to request an urgent meeting to discuss it.”