Ornamentals industry hopes for calmer period following policy battles

New Horticultural Development Company ornamentals committee chairman Martin Emmett has said he is hoping for a quieter period after a series of policy battles.

Emmett, who recently represented the HTA in front of the Parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) on invasives regulations, said: "The industry has been under the cosh with a series of potentially adverse regulations, but I don't think it will carry on like this."

On invasives, Emmett and the HTA expressed "relief" that the EAC report to Defra stuck to current frameworks and was not heavily influenced by environmental campaigners who wanted widespread bans and levies on plant imports. "There was a danger of a strong emphasis on control of horticultural crops over and above the framework we are currently working in," he said.

"The committee could have decided to listen to ecologists but they haven't and conclusions are consistent with processes largely in place," he added.

The HTA has also welcomed a planned more "coherent" approach to link biosecurity, pollinators and invasives. HTA horticulture head Raoul Curtis-Machin said targeted blacklisting is a better outcome than "whitelisting" plants. "The report shows a balanced approach. We were worried about a levy on imported plants."

Emmett said thousands of plants have potential to be invasive with global warming but some would not be invasive in the UK even if they were elsewhere in Europe.

He added: "My biggest concern is that you can identify a degree of risk with a lot of ornamental plants but you need to balance that against the benefits."

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