Owen Paterson

DEFRA will announce a stricter policy on plant health in response to last year's Chalara ash dieback outbreak, according to reports.

Secretary of state Owen Paterson is set to reveal the Plant Health Task Force Report at the 2013 RHS Chelsea Flower Show on 20 May. Furthermore, confirmations of a new plant health officer at DEFRA, as well as tighter restrictions on people bringing plants into the EU, are also expected to be unveiled.

Paterson was full of praise for the strict plant health regimes ofAustralia and New Zealand at a recent DEFRAreception.'There are lessons to be learnt from both countries in protecting the UK from plant disease,' said Paterson, who recently visited the two countries on a fact-finding mission.

At the event, Paterson also challenged the UK to grow 22 per cent more fresh produce in order to reduce the future dependency on foreign imports.