Industry slams DEFRA proposal to ban common amenity species

The horticulture industry has hit out at the inclusion of common trees and plants such as Cotoneaster and Quercus in a proposed banning list issued by DEFRA.

Johnsons of Whixley director Andrew Richardson said: “Having Cotoneaster on the list is absolutely ludicrous. It’s in the top five plants used in amenity horticulture. Yet Buddleia ‘Davidii‘ is not on the list. The HTA ornamental group will be taking this up with DEFRA.” HTA consultant David Gilchrist said: “We have concerns about some of the plants listed, for instance Cotoneaster, Quercus ilex and Q. cerris. We will be contacting DEFRA.” HTA business development manager Tim Briercliffe also said there were “serious concerns about a number of plants on the list that haven’t been there before”. A DEFRA representative said: “I don’t think any of these plants are being sold widely but we’ll be considering that in the consultation. If the industry says it will have an impact we’ll have to consider that.” Parrot’s feather, floating pennywort, Australian stonecrop, water ferns, Himalayan balsam, Japanese knotweed and other invasive plants are also proposed to be added to the list of non-native species under schedule nine of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. DEFRA is consulting to strengthen protection against non-native plants and animals, which can cause flooding, damage property, increase insurance costs and shade out native species. It now plans “robust steps to reduce the potentially devastating impact” of some non-natives, with unlimited fines and/or two years imprisonment as possible punishments. Biodiversity minister Joan Ruddock said invasive non-natives cost the British economy £2bn a year and that climate change is making the threat worse. The power to ban the sale of invasive non-native species has not been used before. The consultation will run until 31 January 2008. A copy of the consultation can be found at www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/wca-schedule9/index.htm.

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