New plant and animal health agency starts today

The new Government agency responsible for safeguarding animal and plant health started work today.

AHVLA Sand Hutton, North Yorkshire building. Image:Defra
AHVLA Sand Hutton, North Yorkshire building. Image:Defra

Defra announced it would merge the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) with Fera's Bee inspectorate, Plants Health and Seeds Inspectorate, Plant Variety and Seeds Group and GM Inspectorate in August, overseen by former AHVLA chief executive Chris Hadkiss.

The agency will play an important role in stopping pests, diseases, and invasive non-native species entering the UK.

It is also the umbrella organisation for the GB Non-native Species Secretariat, which provides information on non-native species in England, Scotland and Wales on behalf of the three Governments and is based in AHVLA's Sand Hutton building in Yorkshire.

The secretariat will be responsible for monitoring and enforcing non-natives in line with the Invasive Alien Species Regulation passed by the European Parliament in April and adopted on Monday. The law bans the possession, transport, selling or growing of species of "union concern". It comes into force in all EU countries on 1 January but the list of affected species will only be drawn up later in the year.

Environment minister Lord de Mauley said that bringing together inspection functions made a lot of sense and would enable joined-up working and better flexibility during emergencies.

Sector skills agency Lantra is also developing a course for landscapers and grounds maintenance companies to cope with the new rules.

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