The delay in extra checks on EU imports has been criticised by businesses for creating confusion and leaving UK borders vulnerable to unsafe produce, the BBC reports.
New controls on EU foodstuffs had been due to be introduced in July but they have been postponed by the government.
The government said it was delaying the changes due to rising prices associated with the war in Ukraine, saying that it “would be wrong to impose new administrative burdens and risk disruption at ports”.
It is the fourth time it has delayed EU import checks since the UK left the free trade bloc.
The uncertainty is costing local authorities money: a spokesman for East Suffolk District Council, which covers the Port of Felixstowe said: “However, following the announcement of a delay to implementation, we are now exploring a range of options to help us address a highly challenging situation.
“No decision has yet been taken and we are keeping staff informed as best we can.”
Tom Bradshaw, an Essex farmer and deputy president of the National Farmers Union, warned that without proper checks unsafe meat could be being imported.
“We have always had a commitment to border checks and at the moment our exports are being checked but our imports aren’t. That is not good enough,” he said.
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) was worried about an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) among pigs on the continent and he said not having full checks on livestock was dangerous.
Simon Doherty, past president of the BVA, said: “This isn’t about a bunch of vets creating jobs for themselves.
“There is a real concern that disease could encroach within the country and therefore we want to do everything we possibly can to minimise the risk.”
Businesses work on certainty. They have to be able to plan. They have to be able to understand what is coming. If the government says the checks need to come in they will gear up to invest to meet the needs for the checks. If the government then turn around and say ‘we’re not going to introduce them’ it’s a problem for business.
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