Mr Patsy McGlone (Mid Ulster): To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs what is the estimated time required to complete the infrastructure preparations at existing entry points for agri-food goods as required by the Withdrawal Agreement.
Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs: In common with the UK Government, I want the Northern Ireland Protocol implemented in a way that minimises any frictions on the flow of agri-food trade and works for our businesses and citizens. As a consequence of the protocol this means having Point of Entry facilities designated by the European Union at Belfast, Larne, Warrenpoint and Foyle Ports and also the Northern Ireland airports (along with the necessary processes, IT capabilities and personnel). This will enable the continued importation of animal and plant products, plants and live animals.
As of 15 September, DAERA officials working at pace have progressed the next steps for programme delivery and initiated the tender process in line with the programme procurement strategy and submitted proposed Certificate of Lawful Use or Development (CLUD) applications to the relevant Council authorities.
I have been made aware that the programme delivery is assessed as RED, and as such the programme team will not able to deliver in full by 31 December 2020.
My Officials are now engaged in contingency planning to identify what can be achieved by 31 December 2020, alongside the fuller implementation of all requirements. Until they have completed that work I am unable to advise you of the time required to complete the infrastructure preparations.