Scottish firms raise concerns

Shipping, currency and uncertainty worry horticulturists in Scotland before independence vote.

Scotland: horticultural impacts
Scotland: horticultural impacts

Most horticulture businesses in Scotland spoken to by HW have expressed concern about how independence might hit their businesses.

Scottish residents will vote on devolution on 18 September. Chief worries among growers and retailers are shipping, currency and general uncertainty.

Pentland Plants co-owner Carolyn Spray said: "We would be crazy to sign up for something that has so many questions unanswered. Personally, I think it's quite possible to be Scottish and British at the same time."

Glendoick Gardens managing director Ken Cox said: "Independence and a new currency would be a disaster for Scottish horticulture."

He added: "We belong to buying group Choice Marketing, which has all its terms quoted in sterling. If currency changed, every aspect of doing business would be affected. Then there's exporting to England and banking, the more you think about it the worse it looks."

New Hopetoun Gardens co-owner Lesley Watson said: "The problem with independence is we have no idea what will happen should it pass. It's an anxious time for business. We trade with Scottish and English businesses, so it will affect us."

Kevock Garden Plants owner Stella Rankin added: "I do mail order and the vast majority of my clients are in the rest of the UK, not Scotland. If there were currency problems it would be a big issue for us, and if it's a separate country it would raise my courier charges too."

Macplants partner Gavin McNaughton said: "Most of our business is in Scotland but we do sell outside too, by mail order to the rest of the UK. That might become more difficult if independence came about."

Growforth managing director Stan Green said: "Independence would absolutely have an effect on our business. We are significant net importers of horticultural products including plants and it's difficult to know the impact it could have on that."

He added: "We're not quite sure what's being voted for. If we don't have the pound and we're dealing in a foreign currency, that has huge implications. Being a business owner will definitely affect which way I vote."

Confor national manager Scotland Jamie Farquhar said: "Funding streams come from Europe. There's obvious concern about an unknown future because uncertainty is the worst enemy of forestry."

Craigmarloch Nurseries director Grant McFarlane said: "If import laws change, it may affect us."

Seer Rockdust company Remin (Scotland) director Jennifer Brodie said: "We supply all over the UK and initially independence is bound to have an effect. But I don't know if it would be positive or negative."

But Binny Plants owner Billy Carruthers said: "I don't think independence should affect us as a business at all - I don't see how it can. The only way it could is if David Cameron gets stroppy and decides to make life difficult for us. We ship plants to European countries and there are no restrictions that stop us there."

A Dobbies representative said: "This is a matter for the people of Scotland to decide in the referendum."

HTA opinion Horticulture 'could get lost'

HTA horticulture head Raoul Curtis-Machin said the HTA is getting busier in Scotland because of increased political activity. Irregularities between Scottish and English legislation include the Agricultural Wages Board remaining in Scotland and Sunday trading, he pointed out.

There is a "danger of horticulture getting lost" because Scotland is so big on forest trees and potatoes, he suggested. The Scottish market, which could be worth £0.5bn, will be represented "as equally as at the moment" whether Scots vote for independence or not.

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