UK: HTA sets out new border challenges to Minister following two-week review

Staff
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The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) has written to government ministers with its learnings two weeks into the new border arrangements. The key border change being the overnight shift on 30 April 2024 from Place of Destination (POD) checks to Border Control Points (BCPs) and Control Points (CPs). The HTA states that the government’s ‘pragmatic approach’ means a very low level of plant health inspections, risking biosecurity, hiked costs of importing, and ongoing systems issues causing concern and mounting resource burdens.

The HTA’s letter to Environment Minister Lord Douglas Miller OBE sets out asks on the here and now, including system fixes, engagement on costs, clarity on data and a plan for the pragmatic approach to give industry reassurance on the border. The letter goes further and seeks to ensure that along with current challenges being addressed, the longer-term need to have a plan to address BCP capability and sector access to easements, such as AOS or a trusted trader scheme, are also delivered. The HTA calls on ministers to convene a meeting of those involved and impacted by the new border changes.

Fran Barnes, Chief Executive of the HTA, commented:
“We know many in the sector shifted their imports to manage the risks of delays and disruption in the early days of the new changes. We are disappointed that we are still on day one check levels today and see system issues and challenges that are ongoing. Well-reported outages are having a knock-on effect on the plant trade and on the ramping up of checks, and they are causing confusion and a lack of confidence in the border, its operations, and biosecurity.

“Many across the sector still do not know, and will not know for some time, the full costs of imports and have any certainty to plan and manage cash flow, with a hotch-potch of pricing regimes, and no publicly available data on inspection levels and trade routes. We are in the dark and unable to access the data the BTOM relies on.

“The sector imports £753 million of plants and plant products annually. 90% of our growers import plants at some stage of the growing cycle. Nearly 100% are SMEs and, in theory, subject to 100% checks and charges. Today, they have near 0% access to the easements or alternatives to BCP usage. We continue to seek members’ insights into how the border and new BCP system is operating, what is working well and what is not, and the cost and resource implications.”

The HTA’s full letter can be accessed via the HTA website.

For more information:
Horticultural Trades Association
www.the-hta.org.uk

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