In response to the publication of the Border Target Operating Model, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) voices concerns and opportunities surrounding the new system.
While the model brings with it the promise of a world-class border system, including new controls to protect against biosecurity threats, CIEH highlights the potential role of environmental health practitioners (EHPs). These dedicated professionals can help alleviate staffing issues at the borders by assisting in the Product of Animal Origin (POAO) checks, bringing their expertise to ensure that health standards are maintained.
However, concerns persist. CIEH believes there remains ambiguity about the future charging mechanism for these checks. Advocating for local empowerment, the CIEH suggests that fees and charges should be set at the local level to account for the unique requirements and resources of individual regions.
Furthermore, CIEH emphasised the pressing need for clarity in the risk categorisation of goods. The distinction between high, medium, and low-risk goods is vital for ensuring that controls are applied appropriately, maintaining the highest standards without causing unnecessary delays.
CIEH also expressed reservations about how the Trusted Trader Scheme will function in practice, given the potential inherent risks it could pose to biosecurity, food safety, and animal and public health.
CIEH acknowledged the collaborative efforts between the Government, the border industry, and businesses in the development of the Border Target Operating Model. They also commend the advancements in technology, such as the Single Trade Window, for its promise in simplifying processes.
However, CIEH urges the government to unleash the potential involvement of EHPs in its implementation, ensuring that the model truly delivers on its promise to protect the UK, its agriculture, and its public health.
Louise Hosking, Executive Director of Environmental Health, stated,
"We welcome the publication of the Final Border Target Operating Model which is long overdue.
While the Border Target Operating Model promises an efficient and effective system, CIEH and our members have been consistent in demanding that it remains robust in safeguarding public health, food safety, and biosecurity.
We have also called on the government to unlock the potential for EHPs to support POAO checks at the borders as many of our members are competent enough to do so almost immediately.
Furthermore, while we wholeheartedly support innovations that streamline trade and enhance security, it's essential that such schemes are not introduced at the expense of rigorous safety and public health controls."