OMC calls for improved communication from Government ahead of 1 July Border Control Point introduction

by Kristin Tadlock

With the introduction of Border Control Points (BCPs) happening on 1 July 2022, the horticulture industry is doing all it can to prepare for potential new barriers to trade.  Guidance issued by Government so far has been scarce and untimely, which has caused increased concern from businesses who rely on imports.

The HTA’s Ornamental Management Committee (OMC) met Tuesday (22/03) to discuss this issue, along with other business. Members echoed the worry that businesses were ill-informed and given insufficient information on how the flow of products into and out of BCPs will work, given the complexity of the border system for goods imported into Great Britain.  Costs have not been clearly communicated to businesses, which leaves them unable to plan and prepare. Many also expressed concerns over plant biosecurity at the border when volume of throughput will be the focus rather than quality of regime.

Sally Cullimore, Technical Policy Manager at the HTA, said:

“The BCP system comes with the potential for further burdens for the horticulture industry. Businesses are feeling commercially compromised with very little time to prepare. 

We need Government to clearly communicate their quarantine arrangements, port fees, service level agreements, and testing processes for our sector well in advance of 1 July while ensuring a high level of engagement between Government, agencies, port operators and port users. 

The ideal approach to biosecurity would be a system that utilises a targeted, flexible, risk-based regime with destination-based inspections.”

The meeting also saw Martin Emmett, recently appointed as the Chair of the NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board, step down as Chair of the Ornamentals Management Committee due to potential future conflicts of interest. Following due process Jonathan Whittemore, Johnsons of Whixley, was elected Chair and Martin Brijs, Palmstead Nurseries, was appointed Vice Chair.

The Committee thanked Martin for his effort and commitment on behalf of HTA grower members over the last three years and congratulated him on his new appointment, recognising the fact that this is the first time a representative from the ornamental horticulture sector has held the position and seeing it as a significant boost to our industry. Martin will remain a committee member of the OMC.