The UK’s Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) has called for the Government to postpone the implementation of Border Control Posts by at least 12 months after the publication of the final Border Target Operating Model (BTOM), expected later this Summer.
In their feedback on the draft border proposals, the HTA highlights the potential negative impact on the horticultural sector, which will be the hardest hit if the Government proceeds without considering the industry’s specific needs.
Since 1 January 2021, Plant Health controls have been effectively implemented for plants, with import inspections taking place at the Place of Destination. This system has been successful for traders and nurseries. The HTA’s concern is that Border Control Posts may not be adequately prepared to handle the diverse and complex variety of loads that the horticultural sector imports from the EU. The Government needs to fully recognise the significance of the horticulture industry and provide assurance that any new trade system is thoroughly planned, tested, and communicated to businesses.
James Barnes, HTA Chairman, emphasises the importance of trade borders to the horticultural sector, which has been operating and trading globally for over a century. He states: “UK horticulture aims to provide UK gardeners with a wide range of choices, variety, and value. The future of our trade borders is crucial for the 95% of our sector that relies on them and desires seamless, swift, and secure movement of plants and plant products.
As the first and most impacted sector following the EU exit, we have already faced comprehensive checks and controls since January 1, 2021. However, the proposed Border Target Operating Model (TOM) threatens to further burden our industry with the introduction of Border Control Points. We have clearly communicated to the government that the draft Target Operating Model lacks necessary details, is delayed, and contains gaps and risks that create uncertainty and additional costs. Additionally, our sector is already managing inflationary pressures, climate change, and Defra-driven regulations, which paradoxically result in reduced horticultural production in the UK.
We urge the government to prioritise the needs of UK horticulture. This includes delaying the introduction of Border Control Points for a minimum of 12 months following the publication of the final TOM, ensuring the necessary preparations to handle the complex imports in the plant trade and granting businesses sufficient time to prepare. It is also vital to align the TOM with other relevant legislation, such as the Windsor Framework, to facilitate the growth and success of the horticultural sector.”