Industry dismayed over ban on invasives

EU plan would introduce unlimited list of species that cannot be introduced, transported, sold or released into environment.

Invasives: can cause problems
Invasives: can cause problems

A "potentially horrific" proposed EU law to ban an expandable list of invasive species has provoked dismay among horticultural experts.

The plan, due to be voted on by the EU next month, would see a list of banned species "of EU concern" that could not be introduced, transported, put on the market, offered, kept, grown or released in the environment.

But when the added measures of an imported plant levy and a year quarantine for imported trees were suggested at recent Government Environmental Audit Committee meetings, the industry was spooked.

HTA horticulture head Raoul Curtis Machin said: "It's potentially very serious. What blindsided us was the question about potential levies. We'd been looking at banned lists but when that question came out it was spooky. Sometimes that's their way of testing potential policy. But it's potentially horrific for the industry."

The RHS is also concerned and said it favours a "blacklist" approach that "would see plants that present a clear environmental threat being restricted". Originally the EU law limited the banned list to 50, but this was changed to a an unlimited number.

The RHS said it wants "a robust and evidence-based approach" to drawing up the list and is urging the EU to "draw on its internationally recognised expertise in taxonomy" when identifying plant species.

TV ethnobotanist James Wong called the plans "pretty crazy" on Twitter. He agreed with the RHS view that climatic differences should be considered - plants that are invasive in some climates may be fine in the UK.

Curtis Machin said costs should be borne by the Government, not the industry, calling it "not fair" on the trade in a competitive market. "Invasives can cause problems but only a handful such as Himalayan balsam and Japanese knotweed do. Less than two per cent of land mass is affected by invasives."

But Renato Canale, managing director of Hertfordshire-based Europlants, which only sells imported varieties, said he could not see a levy happening.

"It would affect us in a big way," he predicted. "It would make our products so much more expensive. But I don't think they would be able to do it." He added that protection already exists with the current block on some trees.

Tighter controls - Better defences endorsed

Kew Gardens arboretum head Tony Kirkham said: "We have to tighten up bio-security. No trees should be imported straight to landscapers. It will be more expensive but priceless when you get a disease you can't control."

Horticulture is an adaptable industry and nurseries and landscapers will discover means to work around such a move, he added.

Campaign group Buglife called for imports of pot plants to be banned after it said the introduction of the New Guinea flatworm threatens native snails in the UK. Oak processionary moth "very likely" came in on pot plants, it added.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Read These Next

Tractors: market roundup

Tractors: market roundup

Manufacturers are working to provide solutions to many challenges. Sally Drury looks at their newest models.



Brightening up gardens in autumn, these daisies are seen as a gem in the gardener's arsenal, writes Miranda Kimberley.

Are tree suppliers seeing the benefit of the health message of trees?

Are tree suppliers seeing the benefit of the health message of trees?

The message that health, the environment and business all benefit from trees is finally getting through, but are nurseries seeing an upturn? Sally Drury reports.

Opinion... Why no-deal Brexit should worry you

Opinion... Why no-deal Brexit should worry you

Whether you voted leave or remain all those years ago, a "no-deal" Brexit should worry you.

I will not be importing oaks this season. Will you?

I will not be importing oaks this season. Will you?

I find myself in a difficult situation. A few weeks ago I was fortunate to be present to hear details of imminent changes to regulations concerning Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) and oak trees. I heard details, asked questions and probed the implications of these changes. That may not sound like a difficult position to be in, yet I am uneasy.

Opinion... Better targets to tackle pollution

Opinion... Better targets to tackle pollution

Lobby groups jumping onto fashionable campaigns, often to promote their own interests, can do much more harm than good. Take, for example, the move against black polythene plant pots and containers.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Horticulture Week Top 60 Ornamentals nurseries

See our exclusive RANKING of ornamentals nurseries by annual turnover plus the FULL REPORT AND ANALYSIS

Tim Edwards

Boningales Nursery chairman Tim Edwards on the business of ornamentals production

Read Tim Edwards

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Are you a landscape supplier?

Horticulture Week Landscape Project Leads

If so, you should be receiving our new service for Horticulture Week subscribers delivering landscape project leads from live, approved, planning applications across the UK.

Peter Seabrook

Inspiration and insight from travels around the horticultural world

Read more Peter Seabrook articles