Industry plan for ornamentals to be launched at Chelsea

The Round Table Ornamental Horticulture Action Plan will be launched on 20 May at RHS Chelsea Flower Show by RHS director general Sue Biggs, HTA director general Carol Paris and RHS vice president Lord Michael Heseltine.

Lord Heseltine: keen to help
Lord Heseltine: keen to help

The plan has not been published but a draft plan (HW 28 August) called for an international garden expo for the UK in 2020, £60,000 funding for the Grow careers website for portals and films, a carrier bag levy to be given to green space and garden charities and a five-year plan for the round table.

There is a call for an EU ornamental plant protection issues discussion group to stop "overly-precautionary" EU measures as well as a call to revise government policy on growing media to make it "evidence-based" and to "reset target aspirations".

Other requests include funding for apprenticeships, horticulture promotion in schools, gardening on the school curriculum, GREAT Campaign for exports to include horticulture, Sunday trading rules relaxation and funding for training and supply chain improvements.

Heseltine's involvement means garden cities and expos - which he pioneered in the 1980s - could be high on the agenda.

International Association of Horticultural Producers secretary-general Tim Briercliffe told HW last week a garden expo is being discussed as something that could be based around a garden city.

The pre-election Conservative manifesto stated: "We will support locally-led garden cities and towns in places where communities want them, such as Ebbsfleet and Bicester." HTA horticulture head Raoul Curtis Machin said the plan's launch had been delayed until after the election, but the "continuity" of having a Conservative government remain in power will help in getting ideas implemented.

He said of the round table members and Defra, who has been represented by horticulture team leader Kathleen Kelliher and minister Lord De Mauley for the initiative: "We've been working closely together on it."

Referring to Lord Heseltine, Curtis Machin said: "He is a big supporter of the whole industry and was involved in garden cities. He's keen to help."

"It would be great to relate a garden expo to a new garden city and there's also the Crystal Palace restoration plan where it could be. It may not be London - it could be in other areas."

He said getting this far with the plan had been "an enormous process", fleshing out detail.

The round table, launched in September 2014, includes the HTA, RHS, Horticultural Development Company, Horticulture Innovation Partnership, Chartered Institute of Horticulture, Lantra, NFU and YoungHort.

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