Celebrity's polytunnel attack sparks backlash

Manufacturers and growers hit back at Monty Don's negative comments on polytunnels

Manufacturers and growers have hit back against TV gardener Monty Don’s attack on polytunnels. Don said polytunnel use was “potentially catastrophic” for tourism. Because polytunnels spoil views, he said, “tourists will simply go elsewhere — we’re in the 59th minute of the eleventh hour”. Ledbury-based Haygrove Polytunnels director John Berry said Don’s outburst was related to a village for 1,000 migrant workers planned by Herefordshire strawberry grower S&A Davies, which is near Don’s farmhouse in Brierley. Haygrove supplies polytunnels and is growing four hectares of lilies in a polytunnel project. Berry added: “Unfortunately, Monty has broadened his attack against the whole industry.” He said 0.016 per cent of Herefordshire was covered in polytunnels, tourism was rising and many growers relied on the tunnels to provide consistent supplies to customers. Berry said: “People need cheap structures to keep what they grow out of the weather. The same market pressures apply to ornamental growers as in fruit.” Marketing director Matthew Bent of Cheshire-based garden centre and grower Bents said he used 1.2ha of polytunnels, mainly to grow herbaceous perennials. He added: “We couldn’t work without them in our growing operation. If we didn’t have polytunnels, it would be hard to get products to market at the right time and with the right quality, so there would probably have to be more imports.”

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