Industry body rails against extra fees

The Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC) has challenged new charges introduced for plant health inspections, saying it will cost the UK fresh produce industry at least £250,000 a year based on inspections at Heathrow Airport alone.

Earlier this week, new regulations were introduced requiring importers and agents to upload documents online as part of their application to import and export fresh fruit and vegetables. Extra charges of 50 per cent have been introduced for any inspections outside the hours of 8.30am to 5pm.

FPC chief executive Nigel Jenney said the consortium was concerned about the efficiency of the new IT system and urged the Food & Environment Research Agency (FERA) not to impose additional charges for "out of hours" inspections.

He added: "We recognise that FERA has a job to do but the risk of any plant health issues arising from fresh produce is minimal. It's unacceptable to impose more costs and delays on the industry to tick the box for the European Commission. FERA should focus resources where there are real risks."

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