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Home > News > NPA seeks clarity from Defra Secretary over Port of Dover budget cuts

NPA seeks clarity from Defra Secretary over Port of Dover budget cuts

19th Feb 2024 / By Alistair Driver

NPA chairman Rob Mutimer has written to Defra Secretary Steve Barclay to seek clarity on the Government’s plans to slash funding for the vital of work in seizing illegal meat imports at the Port of Dover.

Dover portIn the letter, Mr Mutimer tells the Defra Secretary, the NPA is ‘increasingly alarmed’ at the volume of illegally imported meat being seized at the port since African Swine Fever (ASF) prevention measures were introduced in September 2022.

As of February 5, at least 584 individual seizures had been made, totalling almost 66 tonnes, a figure increasing on an almost daily basis. He pointed out that the vast majority of this is pigmeat arriving from countries where ASF is present, therefore posing a 'significant risk to the health of our national pig herd'.

“It is hugely disappointing that funding for this activity is allegedly going to be cut by around 70%, and that there has been no further communication from Government to the wider industry on this topic,” he wrote.

"This reduction in resource will lead to more illegal imports arriving into Great Britain, not just from the EU but also from the rest of the world, ultimately increasing the threat of a notifiable exotic disease outbreak in this country.”

Mr Mutimer asked the Defra Secretary to provide further detail on the proposed reduction in resource at Dover and whether the planned personal import checks that the Government has talked about will go any way towards 'ensuring the protection our borders so desperately need'.

He also called for the Government to remove the current 2kg threshold, below which meat products are not subject to checks. “Given the risk that these meat products can pose to biosecurity and the sheer scale of illegally imported meat being confiscated, the NPA believes that all non-commercial meat products should be banned, similar to other countries worldwide, as this is far easier for tourists and travellers to understand and for government to implement and enforce,” he said.

Sevington BCP concerns

Mr Mutimer went on to highlight the ‘lack of understanding’ across the industry of what is required and subsequent readiness for conducting checks on live animals arriving into Great Britain at Sevington, the new Border Control Post currently under construction, located 22 miles inland, in Kent.

He said there were several issues the NPA feels have not been adequately addressed, which could ultimately cause health and welfare problems for pigs, which are imported at great expense to provide improved genetics in our national breeding herd.

“As we still do not know what the checks on live animals will entail, it is unclear whether pigs arriving at Sevington will have to be unloaded at the site, which will put them at risk of disease as well as causing stress to the animals. The planned hours of operation will also force hauliers to travel during peak times, which in the pre-Brexit era was avoided in order to provide the quickest and least stressful journey for the pigs,” he added.

He said this and the decision to use Sevington to replace the Port of Dover as the primary BCP for all commercial meat imports, including those that originate outside the EU, were ‘very concerning elements’ the NPA would welcome further discussion on.

He also sought assurances that the government’s deadline of October 31 for the proposed BCP at Sevington, including infrastructure, policies and procedures and teams serving the facility, will be met and that the facility will be fit for purpose.