Scotland leads UK in support for horticulture

Scotland is ahead of the rest of the UK in supporting horticulture, according to gardening bodies.

The Ornamentals Round Table list of asks of Defra, launched last month, is already being met in part in Scotland, with garden tourism, carrier bag levies and Sunday trading supported north of the border.

Additionally, support for Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is more secure than at RBG Kew, legislation to protect allotments is going through Holyrood and GreenSpace Scotland still exists to support parks, while the UK charity has folded.

HTA chief executive Carol Paris said extending Sunday trading for garden centres is "our biggest issue" in England and Wales. Centres are free to open in Scotland on Sundays but are restricted to six hours elsewhere in the UK and not at all on Easter Sunday. Scottish garden centre figures show the rest of the UK lost £12m because centres cannot open on Easter Sunday and £75m across the year, she added.

B&Q and Homebase closing up to a quarter of their stores is "not because gardening is having a hard time. It's more to do with the internet. They don't need that space because growth is coming online. People can order online on Sunday, which shows we need to deregulate Sunday trading."

A Holyrood reception last month attracted 260 MSPs and garden industry figures. "If everyone is speaking with one voice there's more chance of being heard," said Paris. "The timing with the new Government makes it easier to tie in with their objectives of gardening, obesity and food provenance."

She added: "It's important to us to talk to the devolved governments - the more devolution there is the more different regulations there will be."

Paris also confirmed that the HTA will lobby for the removal of the Agricultural Wages Board in Scotland because it makes Scottish growers "uncompetitive".

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