State buying Bill Cullen’s former Rosslare import centre for Brexit checks

OPW has agreed terms on 16-acre site at port to prepare for no-deal border inspections

Businessman Bill Cullen’s  former car distribution centre near Rosslare has been bought by the State as a temporary facility to carry out checks on UK imports in a no-deal Brexit. Photograph: Eric Luke

Businessman Bill Cullen’s former car distribution centre near Rosslare has been bought by the State as a temporary facility to carry out checks on UK imports in a no-deal Brexit. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

From penny apples to checks on apples.

A former car distribution centre near Rosslare port once owned by motor tycoon Bill Cullen’s company is being bought by the State as a temporary facility to carry out checks on UK imports in a no-deal Brexit.

The former Renault import centre, which sits on 16 acres at the Wexford port, is being purchased for Revenue Commissioners officials and Department of Agriculture veterinary inspectors to carry out customs, food and animal health checks on goods coming into the port on lorries from Britain.

A spokeswoman for the OPW, the State body buying the property under the hard Brexit plan, would only say the commissioner for public works in Ireland had agreed terms for the purchase of lands near the country’s second busiest port.

“Until the legal formalities have been completed, it would be inappropriate to comment further,” she said.

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Financial crash

Mr Cullen’s company Glencullen owned the former distribution centre, which has the capacity to hold 9,000 vehicles, until Ulster Bank appointed receivers to his business in 2012 after the financial crash.

He ran a profitable motor business, featured in the Irish version of The Apprentice reality television programme in a role made famous by Donald Trump and wrote an autobiography called It’s a Long Way from Penny Apples. He was one of the highest profile casualties of the economic collapse.

Land Registry records show that the current owners are a local haulage and logistics company called Baku GLS, which purchased the property in June 2015. Calls to the company seeking comment were not returned.

The Government announced in December that it was buying properties at Rosslare and Dublin Port for border checks as part of contingency planning to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

Temporary

The temporary Rosslare site is not regarded as ideal for border checks and inspections as it is located 2km from the port, but the State is rushing to buy a property as a short-term solution for makeshift checks in time for the United Kingdom’s scheduled departure from the European Union at the end of March.

The site’s distance from the port requires traffic planning should trucks leaving the port require clearance by customs officials or veterinary inspectors before travelling on to businesses and supermarkets.

The Revenue has outlined no-deal plans to run a traffic light customs system for trucks coming into Irish ports where drivers will be told 15 minutes before their arrival on ferries whether they are being routed through green (no checks required), amber (minimal checks) and red (full checks) channels.

Longer term, there are plans to build a single centralised compound at Rosslare Europe with 13 inspection bays for trucks coming off ships, parking for 35 trucks and a dedicated border control post for live animals, but this facility earmarked for four acres at the port will not be ready for a number of years.

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