HTA urges speed for plant imports

Association calls for faster turn around in customs checks to prevent plant deterioration in storage

The HTA is campaigning for plant imports to be speeded through all checks when they arrive in Britain. The association wants to ensure that live plant material is not left deteriorating on the dockside or at airports awaiting clearance. Proposals for plant health inspection of third-country (non-EU) imports were due to come into force in January but April is now the likely date. The main change for growers and retailers is that plant material will have to be inspected by plant health officials at the point of entry, then cleared by customs. Currently, much plant material is inspected when it reaches its final destination, often at the nursery. HTA policy adviser David Brown said: “Our priority is to ensure that HTA members and others do not experience delays at the point of entry. We have stressed to DEFRA that it needs to put processes in place that mean live plant material is not delayed in unsuitable conditions. He added that DEFRA has to ensure new costs being imposed for UK inspections were competitive compared to rates charged in the other European states. If this is not done, he said, material would be moved through other, cheaper points of entry on the Continent

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