On Monday the News Letter asked the then DUP minister about a report that a digger was prevented from boarding a GB ferry to come to Northern Ireland because it contained soil.
Edwin Poots was also asked if the rigour of the new checks was such that it was now illegal to bring a pair of muddy boots into Northern Ireland. The department did not respond and that night Mr Poots left office temporarily to have surgery for cancer.
His replacement, Gordon Lyons, did not answer the questions immediately but three days later he responded. He did not dispute that a digger had been turned back at a GB port, but said his staff were not involved.
The East Antrim MLA said: “I find the extra burden being placed on the movement of used agricultural and forestry machinery and vehicles as a result of the NI Protocol unacceptable and completely unnecessary and the certification required has no added benefit nor gives any further protection than was already there.
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“As has always been the case, it is good practice to avoid the risk of transmitting disease on clothing or footwear. However, there is no change to the guidance or standards expected from a person arriving at a point of entry as a result of the protocol.”
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