Sinn Féin 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 Northern Ireland’s second biggest port to be compliant with post-Brexit trading regulations on 1st January 2021.
The South Down MP said:
“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.
“This work is being done to comply with Brexit regulations and the need for enhanced checks at the north’s sea ports,
“This would involve the construction of a large inspection facility, office space and HGV parking bays. Given the approaching Brexit deadline, it needs to be done as soon as possible 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 begin. 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 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. This new facility will impact on the adjacent Area of Specific Scientific Interest (ASSI) and the scenic Narrow Water Gateway to the town. Therefore, it’s 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. So I would hope that the Harbour Authority, DAERA, and Newry, Mourne & Down Council will ensure 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.
“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.”
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