Any move to create inland border control posts in the Humber will increase risks to public and animal health, it has been claimed.

The idea is seen by the government as a way of easing potential congestion at ports once the transition period covering the UK's departure from the European Union ends on December 31.

Ministers say their preferred option is to base new-look border control posts - which have been dubbed 'Brexit lorry parks' - on existing port land with funding being offered to port operators to pay for necessary building work.

But they have also recently approved new powers to build new BCP facilities anywhere in the areas covered by Hull City Council and East Riding Council without the need to apply for planning permission as a fall-back option.

As yet, no sites in the Humber have been officially announced.

Freight containers at King George Dock

As well as housing UK Border Force staff, the new BCPs are expected to provide a base for port health authority officials and trading standards officers as well as hosting facilities for the Animal and Plant Health Agency to carry out checks on live animals and plants.

In a new report, Hull and Goole chief port health inspector Laurence Dettman said he was concerned if inland BCPs were established here.

He said: "It is my belief that such a move would reduce the established high levels of portal expertise and place at risk the controls which are necessary for the protection of public and animal health in the UK.

"I believe that the devastating food and mouth disease epidemic of 2001 serves as stark reminder of such risks."

Mr Dettman said new BCPs would be necessary to serve both the docks at Hull and the Humber Sea Terminal at Killingholme on the South Bank.

"Discussions with all parties are ongoing and it is hoped that firm decisions on the exact size and location of the new facilities will soon be finalised," he added.

Between them, the two ports handle nearly 150 million kilos of imported food from the EU every year.

Due to be presented to councillors next week, his report also provides the first indication of what he describes as "a seismic shift" in way UK health port health authorities will be required to enforce food controls from January 1.

For over 40 years, no port health checks have been necessary on imported food from the EU under freedom of movement regulations.

However, initial government data forecasts on the likely scale of post-transition checks at UK ports suggest nearly 19,000 documenatry checks will be required every year on EU food and high-risk non-food products being shipped into Hull and Killingholme from next April.

In addition, nearly 300 annual physical inspections on EU food imports will be required at the two ports starting from next July under the government's phased approach to introducing the changes.

One physical food inspection usually takes around an hour to complete.

Killingholme currently has no facilities to physically check EU food imports while a recently-approved border control post at King George Dock in Hull only deals with non-EU fish products and is not regarded as being big enough to carry out the scale of import checks required next year.

Mr Dettman said the government had yet to provide data on expected new workloads for required documentary checks on EU fish and organic imports such as flowers and plants which are due to come into force on January 1.

"The scale of the documentary checks on animal products from April 1 next year is, as predicted, a huge increase in our responsibilities," he said.

The new checks will be in addition to existing inspections on imports from non-EU countries and other statutory duties currently carried out by the port health authority such as infectious disease control, ship and food premises visits, water sampling and pollution control.

Hull and Goole Port Health Authority chief port inspector Laurence Dettman
Hull and Goole Port Health Authority chief port inspector Laurence Dettman

Mr Dettman said a £226,347 bid had been submitted to the government by the authority to fund extra staff and training to bolster his existing five-man team which is based at an office in Hessle Road.

But he warned the funding being offered only covered a period up the end of March and said it was not yet clear whether extra funding would be offered by the government after that.

"If additional funding is not forthcoming, the burden of a shortfall would fall on the authority and our annual levy precepts," he said.