Michael Gove visits nursery to discuss critical April border changes

Plants Limited welcomed the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP in Surrey to discuss concerns of the border changes.

Michael Gove

Joining the visit to Plants Limited were representatives from the HTA, Long Acre, Crocus, Euro Plants and Dingley Dell. Rachel Blakey, Plants Sales Director, Plants Limited, commented:

“We were impressed with the quick response from our local MP, Michael Gove, to our ask to visit our Chobham site. We are a family-owned wholesale plant nursery and pride ourselves in the quality and range of our hardy nursery stock for the landscape trade. Imported stock plays an important role to deliver for our customers, so what will happen on 30 April really matters.

“We are a Place of Destination (PoD) site and are experts at checking our goods on arrival and working with APHA on this. We are really worried about the risks of using BCPs as we do not know how they will be able to safely check our loads, how long it will take, and what this means cost-wise. Having our local MP come and see the types of plants we are talking about, and just after he announced more opportunity to hopefully grow our customer base with planning being eased, will hopefully help get some of those answers we need.”

With just two months to go until the 30 April border changes, the HTA are working to engage with policymakers and work with sister associations across Europe to get answers to the many questions and challenges that must be overcome. The HTA has been clear in its ask that without communication, confidence in capacity and clarity on costs, it fails to see how the shift from at-site expert checks to a handful of Border Control Points (BCPs) will work.

Jennifer Pheasey, HTA’s Director of Public Affairs, commented: “We were pleased to meet Mr Gove with HTA members, Plants Limited, to show what the real impact of changes in our operations means to a business. April is the start of the peak season in the movement of plants. With just two months to go, we have too many unknowns. Without the critical detail from the Government, such as the costs that its own Border Control Point (BCP) will charge, it is too little, too late.”

“With an import value of plants and plant products of £753 million, it is critical to the sector that this trade can happen smoothly, securely, and affordably. The sector has invested and adapted to moving goods across borders since January 2021. We are asking to continue with the current approach until the BCPs or alternative trade routes are operational, viable and tested. Without doing this, we risk huge damage to the sector, an industry which delivers for the UK economy, jobs, environment and 30 million gardeners.”

“The HTA is doing everything it can to get the clarity our members need and support them in understanding options to have more control over their future trade. Next week, we will host a workshop at Provender Nurseries dedicated to borders and trade issues and encourage members to sign up. We are also asking more members to follow Plants Limited in writing to their MPs to raise the urgency and risks and increase awareness of Environmental Horticulture and the importance of cross-border trade.”