Pembrokeshire bats block Border Control Post plans
Plans for a second Welsh Border Control Post to be built in Pembrokeshire have suffered a set back after the proposed site in the village of Johnston was found to be used by large number of bat species.
A survey of the site found 11 species of bat used the site for “foraging and commuting” including four species classed as “vulnerable” to extinction – the Nathusius’ pipistrelle, serotine, and barbastelle bat.
All bat species are legally protected in Wales, making it a criminal offence to move, injure or kill a wild bat, or damage or destroy a place used for breeding or resting.
A total of 30 BCPs are being built across the UK to enable physical checks to be carried out on certain goods entering the UK from the EU as required under the Brexit trade deal.
Holyhead has already been announced as the location for one of the two facilities in Wales, and last week Economy Minister Vaughan Gething confirmed the appointment of Kier as the contractor for the design of the proposed Border Control Post facility there.
In a written statement the minister said: “Construction work on the proposed site will not start until the build stage of the contract is agreed, expected in the summer, and the site will continue to be used as a HGV parking facility until that time.
“This stage is also subject to the granting of planning permission via a Special Development Order with a decision expected in May. I expect that the BCP will be operational by April 2023.
“Turning to Southwest Wales where I previously announced that our preferred location for a BCP to serve both Pembroke Dock and Fishguard, was a site at Johnston. I can confirm now that we have terminated our negotiations for that particular site, following surveys which have revealed a large number of bat species.
“In addition, the consolidation of border controls facilities onto one plot is no longer a pre-requisite. This expands the range of potential options for the South-west Wales permanent border control post, which may allow provision closer to the two ports, or an alternative site in the Johnston locality or elsewhere.”
Republic of Ireland
From July BCPs are meant to be responsible for carrying out inspections on goods such as animals, plants and products of animal origin entering Wales from the Republic of Ireland.
All BCPs must be biosecure so that inspections of live animals, meat and plants can take place without risk of contamination and must also have vets on site to carry out inspections. They must also offer large parking areas for HGVs.
Do to delays in the construction of the facilities in Wales, Mr Gething said in January he was “exploring interim arrangements at Welsh ferry ports” to bridge the gap between the introduction of new controls in July and the finalisation of the permanent BCPs:
“This would constitute a ‘mixed’ regime whereby a basic level of checks will be completed at the temporary facilities in conjunction with continued checks at destination for certain commodities.
“We are developing these plans with input from the local authorities, relevant enforcement agencies (including the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and Border Force), as well as the ports.
“This approach will allow commodities to continue to flow through the ferry ports, while ensuring checks are carried out to limit risk to biosecurity and food safety. After July 2022, we can consider the enduring arrangements for Pembrokeshire.”
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