Fera proposes higher charges for plant health import inspection

The Food & Environment Research Agency (FERA) has proposed increasing the charges for plant health import inspections.

Wyevale East lost nine willows in Fera sampling. Image: Wyevale East
Wyevale East lost nine willows in Fera sampling. Image: Wyevale East

A consultation has gone out on increased charges to reflect changes in the sterling-euro exchange rate. The Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC) will participate in the consultation, which runs until 24 June.

Chief executive Nigel Jenney said: "The FPC helped to negotiate temporary standard charges to allow the trade time to adapt to the additional cost when statutory charges were introduced in 2005.

"Up to now the industry has been paying full whack for an incomplete service, with issues relating to IT and delays in completion of checks. FERA is proposing an additional annual cost of around £325,000. The FPC will look closely at the quality of service, including efficiencies and reduced levels of checks, expected by the industry."

The charges relate to products that require a phytosanitary certificate and include documentary, identity and plant health checks.

As part of pre-consultation on the EU Plant Health Directive, the FPC wants an assured trader scheme to reduce inspection and administrative costs.

According to FERA, the current charges fall below the minimum required under EU legislation and this will be an interim step pending a fuller review of plant health charges later this year. On average, charges will need to increase by around 20 per cent to bring them up to the equivalent EU minimum standard.

FERA intends to introduce the new charges from 1 August. The full assessment charges are expected to be in place by 1 April 2011.


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