The government has urged the horticulture industry to check online guidance around importing and exporting plants and plant products as the end of the Brexit transition period nears.
From 1 January 2021, all regulated plants and plant products exported from England, Scotland or Wales to the EU will be subject to EU import controls, in line with goods exported from the rest of the world.
Defra said traders will need to familiarise themselves with new and existing guidance ahead of the end of the transition period ending on 31 December 2020, including:
- The introduction of UK Plant Passporting and removal of EU Plant Passporting. For the first six months of 2021, UK plant passports can be attached to regulated plants and plant products within EU member states. Further guidance is available on the Plant Health Portal
- A list of ‘high-priority’, regulated and exempt plants and plant products (such as potatoes, certain types of seed and horticultural machinery) has been published, outlining when certain plants and plant products will be subject to extra requirements such as phytosanitary certificates and pre-notification
- For high-priority plant and plant product imports from the EU, registering as a place of destination on gov.uk needs to be done with sufficient time before 1 January 2021
- Traders importing or exporting from 1 January 2021 will need to be registered for PEACH and eDomero IT systems
- The delayed introduction of inspection fees for imports of ‘high-priority’ plants and plant products until 1 April 2021
- Acting in accordance with the Wood Packaging Material (WPM) requirements for international standards (ISPM 15) when moving products between GB, the EU and NI.
The changes will be relevant to businesses who import and export a range of plants and seeds, including cut flowers, plants for planting, seed potatoes and a variety of fruit and vegetables. Used agricultural machinery and tools will also require additional checks.
The IT systems, PEACH and eDomero, will continue to be used from 1 January 2021, Defra pointed out. Traders importing or exporting from this date are encouraged to register for these services as soon as they can to familiarise themselves with the platform.
APHA stressed it will require at least seven working days in advance of an export to issue a phytosanitary certificate. This will allow time for the inspector to visit, inspect, and take samples if required for lab testing. Traders will need to begin preparations for this as soon as possible to ensure their consignments will have the necessary documentation.
Nicola Spence, Defra chief plant health officer, said: "We have established our own plant regulation system which will have the same requirements as current EU systems. This will ensure we have a sustainable plant industry and continue to play a leading role in protecting our plants to prevent hitchhiker pests or diseases from entering the country.
"A number of actions traders need to take will require forward planning and completion in a timely manner, such as applications or physical changes to premises. For instance, businesses intending to register as a place of destination (POD) will need sufficient time and space for their premises to meet certain requirements.
"The government remains committed to protecting nature and biodiversity while also minimising disruption for businesses at the end of the transition period. You can contact APHA for support with trading plants."