Defra’s statement on how the horticultural industry could be affected
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has released new guidelines on the import and export of plants in the event of a Brexit ‘no deal’ in March 2019.
Although the statement on the www.gov.uk website says a ‘no deal’ is ‘unlikely’, as time creeps closer to the deadline, it admits that ‘preparations for a no deal scenario would have to be accelerated’.
The notice refers to ‘plants,’ meaning a living plant (including a fungus or tree) or a living part of a plant (including a fungus or shrub), at any stage of growth; and ‘plant products’ meaning products of plant origin, unprocessed or having undergone simple preparation, such as wood and bark.
No border controls on most imports – at the moment
At the moment, there are no border controls on most imports and exports of plants and plant products between the UK and the EU. Some products that are a higher biosecurity risk use the EU plant passport scheme.
For countries outside the EU, some plants and plant products can move freely. Other ‘controlled’ plants and products must meet import requirements because they are considered to pose a risk to plant health.
Controlled goods exported from the UK to non-EU countries are determined by the country receiving them and must travel with a Phytosanitary Certificate (PC), issued by one of the UK’s plant health authorities, and are checked on arrival at the border.
After March 2019 if there’s no deal
The UK would be treated as a third country and would lose access to the EU plant passport regime.
This would affect businesses that export or import to and from the EU, or move some plants and plant products within the UK.
Exports from the UK to EU countries
In a ‘no deal’ happens, the UK would need to meet EU third country import requirements.
Exporting controlled plants and plant products to the EU would become the same as sending them to third countries.
Businesses would need to apply for a Phytosanitary Certificate (PC) from the UK plant health authorities before they could export.
Some plantstuffs would need lab testing of samples to ensure they are free from pests and diseases, while others also need to have been inspected during the growing season – which will be charged for.
Consignments of controlled plants and plant products may be subject to checks at the EU border.
Imports from EU countries to the UK
The Government has decided that most plants and plant products are low-risk and should continue to enter the UK from the EU freely.
Exceptions would include:
Plants and plant products managed under the EU plant passport; these would now be subject to UK import controls.
Consignments of these plants and plant products would require a (PC) issued in the country of export (or re-export), and the importer or agent would need to inform the relevant UK plant health authority before arrival.
Scanned copies of the PC and relevant documents would be needed in advance, with the original copy presented once the consignment has arrived.
Consignments of plants and plant products from EU countries would not be stopped at the border – documentary and identity checks would be carried out remotely and would be charged for by the plant health authority.
Plants and plant products from outside the EU arriving in the UK via the EU would be treated as non-EU imports and subject to third country controls on arrival unless checks had been carried out in the EU.
Plants and plant products moving within the UK
If no deal prevails, there would be a new UK plant passport scheme. Plants and plant products covered by the EU plant passport regime when moved within the UK fall under this.
Businesses would need to be authorised by the relevant UK plant health authority. They would need to issue plant passports to companies before moving plants and plant products within the UK.
As for the issue of the Irish border, there are many paragraphs of waffle, if you’d care to decipher it.
This is obviously an evolving and complex subject and this is a brief summary. For more details and links to related topics, visit www.gov.uk.