Recognition for vital horticulture sector: House of Lords report highlights industry’s value
6 November 2023
The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) has welcomed the publication of the report from the year-long House of Lords Horticulture Committee special inquiry for recognising the importance of UK horticulture as a key deliverer of environmental targets. At the forefront of the report’s recommendations is the HTA’s top ask for increased cross-departmental collaboration within the government to acknowledge the sector’s relevance across policy areas.
Having actively contributed to the inquiry through impactful written and in-person evidence, numerous industry visits and ensuring the voices and views of its members were heard, the HTA and wider environmental horticulture sector receive recognition throughout the report for their invaluable contributions to the economy and the pursuit of a net-zero future.
James Barnes, HTA chairman, commented:
“We are a sector contributing billions to the economy, supporting nearly 700,000 jobs and enriching the UK’s public spaces – both urban and rural as well as our home gardens. The Lords’ report recognises this significant value and challenges the government to create an environment which supports the growth of our original green industry, allowing it to bloom and boom.
“The report prioritises one of the HTA’s key asks – for the machinery of government to work more effectively for horticulture. The report proposes the establishment of a cross-government working group, recognising that environmental horticulture spans many policy portfolios - planning, health, net-zero, trade, and business – to name just a few. We have called for a Government Office for Green Spaces to serve as that bridge.
“While the report delves into the distinctive aspects of environmental and edible horticulture, it identifies common challenges such as trade, peat, energy and skills. The report places significant emphasis on borders and trade and ensuring biosecurity remains a top priority whilst delivering smoother and speedier border movements. The report’s recognition of the importance of international trade is particularly welcome, given UK horticulture has been both first and hardest hit by border changes. We also appreciate the urgency placed on modernising the CITES permit system to ensure it is fit for purpose and avoid unnecessary lost consignments.
“The committee heard crucial evidence on peat, which clearly stated that time is a major factor in being able to transition to other forms of growing media sustainably, and the report acknowledges that bans alone will not deliver a sustainable transition, which is a significant step. We already have record lows of peat usage, surpassing our European neighbours, and the support measures outlined in the report need urgent review and implementation to aid further progress.
“The value of horticulture, whether in the pursuit of net-zero goals, urban cooling, biodiversity enhancement or promoting health and wellbeing, is celebrated throughout this report. It is now imperative for government officials and policymakers to fully embrace, champion, and initiate the necessary actions for the sector not only to survive but to thrive. We urge the government to seize this opportunity, utilise the insights from the report, and ensure that horticulture becomes a vital policy solution that transcends multiple departments. In short, it’s time to turn words into action and cultivate a brighter, greener future for all. The HTA is now working through the details of the nearly 200-page report and looks forward to discussing it in greater detail.
“We extend our gratitude to the honourable Lords and Ladies and the committee clerks for their dedicated work, as well as to the industry for their sincere and passionate contributions.”
Read the report here.