Plant passport goal is written confirmation penalties won't be enforced

HTA policy executive Sally Cullimore said she hopes Defra will agree in writing not penalise growers who show intention to comply with Plant Passports following HTA appeals for a 12 month 'grace period' from 14 December.

The HTA wrote to biosecurity minister Lord Gardiner asking for a grace period on enforcement of penalties for introducing plant passports after 14 December and has requested for Defra to put in writing that growers who can demonstrate their intention to comply with Plant Passports will not be punished if they are not ready when the deadline passes.

Defra is understood to be considering the request.

Cullimore understands Defra will adhere to EU law on the extended plant passports, which most be added to all plants that are to be traded on 14 December, but said: “We are asking that Defra take a common-sense approach to the implementation of the plant passporting regulations.The suggestion is that a 12 month grace period is introduced where no penalties will be issued for non-compliance as long as businesses can demonstrate their intent to comply with the legislation. Importantly, this is not a delay and businesses would need to have a plan in place demonstrating their intent to comply.

"The main concern is that there is such a lot to do in a short period of time and they don’t want to get it wrong. This is why a grace period with regard to penalties is so important. With the 14 December fast approaching, it is time to take action and ensure that you have practical plans in place for your business.”

Because of pre-election 'purdah', Defra cannot respond publicly.

Defra directed growers to section one of its information:

Most frequently asked plant passport questions:

1. The difference between a professional operator and an authorised operator? No difference.

2. Why is there such a short time frame for implementation of the new passports? The legislation was passed in 2016 and design for the passports was published in December 2017. 

3. Why do you need a traceability code? Only needed when the plant being despatched is to go through another stage of preparation, so are not prepared for final use.

4. What do you have to attach the plant passport to? They must be physically attached to the trade unit.

5. If the product comes into your company and then is sold toanother user, do I need to issue my own passport even if it is not split down or altered? No. But traceability must be obtained

6. Will there be a grace period or delay for plant passport implementation? There will be no delay. In the EU, penalties will be applied. The HTA has asked for a grace period of 12 months on implementation of passports if you show intention of implementation. At present, Defra will continue as it is legally bound to enforce passporting. In the rest of the EU plant passports will be enforced on 14 December.

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