Plans for £30m Cairnryan border control post revealed

Plans for a new £30m border control post near the ferry ports of Cairnryan have been revealed. 

A Scottish Government contract published online says the 'inland border facility' will be necessary to carry out sanitary, phytosanitary and customs checks on some goods entering from Northern Ireland.

This would include certain animal and plant products, as well as live animals and commercial vehicles. 

A specific site has not yet been chosen, however ITV Border understands the disused East Pier in Stranraer, and the nearby Castle Kennedy airfield, are both being considered. 

The Scottish Government has long claimed a facility would be necessary, and it says the UK Government will pay for it.

However, in October 2019 Westminster's Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, who is also the Conservative MP for Dumfries and Galloway, told Representing Border the Prime Minister had assured him there would not be a border in the Irish Sea, and 'I take him on trust on that'.

In April 2021, during the Holyrood election campaign, Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Finlay Carson told Greg Hoare 'That's not going to happen, we're not going to have a border control'. 

Responding to the revelation that there will be a border control post, Mr Carson said he had been wrong 'to some extent' but that 'additional checks' and 'passport checks' would not be taking place. 

The Scottish Conservative MSP also claimed it shouldn't have been necessary, and the UK had been 'let down by the EU'.

Scottish Labour's rural affairs spokesperson Colin Smyth, who is also a South Scotland MSP, said: 'this border control is a direct consequence of Brexit', and would make it harder to export products between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

Romano Petrucci, who runs the Central Cafe in Stranraer and chairs the town's Development Trust, said the building of a border control post could bring benefits, like increased custom to the town.

However, he criticised the lack of engagement with local communities: 'We hear nothing here. We've not been consulted, despite promises we would be.'

Mr Petrucci believes the facility should be built at the town's East Pier, however some local people are concerned it could herald a return to the days of large numbers of lorries rumbling through Stranraer.

The Scottish Government says it expects the inland border facility to be operational by the end of summer 2022.