The trades association for horticulture has called on government to delay the introduction of plant health inspections, highlighting a raft of issues with the proposed regulatory changes to the way UK businesses import and export plants to and from the EU.
At a virtual roundtable event on Tuesday, the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) raised concerns that the proposals as currently envisaged are logically impossible to implement and that the requirements will not achieve the objective of improved plant health because of their complexity and the administrative and financial burden they impose. The HTA is also concerned that required IT systems are not ready and that border control posts are not yet complete.
With the UK horticulture sector reliant on £350m-worth of plant imports, particularly young ‘starter’ plants, an audience of cross-party parliamentarians heard the growing fear that inadequate preparation has been done and that changes are being pushed through without proper consideration of the consequences to a vital sector of the UK economy.
Appealing for horticulture’s voice to be heard at the highest levels of government, HTA chairman James Barnes, said: “It is imperative that government understands their proposals represent the biggest single non-tariff barrier in the history of our industry. By asking us to comply with new terms and conditions not yet agreed, with just 32 working days to go, represents an absolute ‘train crash’ for the industry and is setting us up to fail.
“Horticulture has a key role to play in the UK’s economic recovery after COVID in supporting government ambitions to ‘green’ the economy. There’s a real risk that our potential to contribute to this work will be hampered by the sector diverting all its effort to navigating and then surviving the impact of these regulations.”
The HTA will continue its lobbying on the matter, requesting the Secretary of State delay the introduction of the regulations, and is keen to work with the Government to bring about effective rules to the benefit of all.