The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) has issued a comment regarding the Queen’s Speech.
James Clark, Director of Policy and Communications at the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) said: “We welcome the commitment made by Government within the Queen’s Speech to progress key areas of activity around the economy, trade, and the environment – all fundamental to our members’ needs. As an industry, horticulture has much to contribute to the economy and the environment and we look forward to working closely with the Government as further detail emerges.”
He adds, “The horticulture industry has a pivotal role in delivering many aspects of the Environment Bill, including mitigating the impact of climate change and improving air quality through activities such as tree planting. However, in order to meet these objectives and ensure that these trees are supplied from homegrown stock, it is fundamental that UK nurseries have better access to capital investment to invest in infrastructure and labour to meet this increased demand.”
Recycling - it is reassuring to hear that having a consistent approach to household recycling is within the Environment Bill and it is vital that plant pots are included within this to ensure that that 8,000 tonnes of recyclable pots are collected from the kerbside and made back into plant pots.
It is encouraging to hear that the introduction of an Australian points-based immigration scheme will focus on skills and talent. However, there needs to be better recognition that salary threshold levels should be appropriate for specific industries. We are concerned that if thresholds are too high the UK horticulture sector would no longer be able to employ much needed skilled and experienced full-time workers from EU countries.
The news that the Seasonal Agricultural Workers scheme is going to be increased is welcomed but the scope of this needs to be widened to include horticulture as currently, this applies to edible horticulture and agriculture only rather than the ornamental sector.
Whilst not specifically mentioned in today’s Queen’s Speech it is important that horticulture is recognised alongside agriculture within the Agriculture Bill. The horticulture industry has a role to play in protecting the environment through good land management and flood alleviation, helping to meet the goals of the 25-year Environment Plan.