The below message was sent to the HTA by the UK Chief Plant Health Officer, Professor Nicola Spence and concerns the new EU measures designed to prevent the further spread of the disease Xylella Fastidiosa.


You will be aware that new EU measures were approved last week on Xylella fastidiosa and this letter provides further details.

The changes will come into force around the end of November or shortly after, following formal adoption by the European Commission.

The changes include:

  • Provisions to improve harmonisation of surveillance, by reference to technical guidelines.
  • Publication of contingency plans, to aid transparency.
  • Use of prescribed diagnostic methods to confirm findings, to ensure the use of robust and proven methods.
  • Provisional demarcation of outbreaks pending confirmation of subspecies, to ensure timely responses.
  • Reduction of buffer zone width in demarcated areas, to 5km, except for containment zones, where it will remain at 10km.  This is a more technically justified approach in cases where eradication is being pursued, while ensuring there is no reduction in protection regarding areas where the disease is established.
  • New requirements for demarcating isolated findings, where the buffer zone width will be 1km and can be lifted after 12 months, following intensive investigation and actions.  This will avoid unnecessary restrictions in such cases, where there is good technical evidence that there has been no disease spread.
  • Corsica and the Balearic Islands have been designated as containment zones (in addition to Lecce/parts of Brindisi in Italy).
  • Within containment zones it is now possible to authorise the planting of ‘host plants’ for purposes other than scientific research, to provide an additional option for areas affected by the disease, without reducing the level of protection in relation to the movement of plants from such areas.
  • Exemption from felling trees of historic value in demarcated areas, where these are kept physically isolated from vectors and subject to regular inspections.  Although costly to implement, in exceptional cases this may be a beneficial option, which does not introduce any additional risk in relation to areas free of the disease.
  • Plant varieties (currently 3 vine varieties) confirmed as not susceptible to Xylella to be exempt from movement restrictions for ‘specified plants’ grown in demarcated areas.
  • Updated requirements for managing vector populations around a 100m zone of any nurseries which are to be approved to move ‘specified plants’ from demarcated areas.  Currently no such nurseries are approved.
  • New requirement for all ‘host plants’ being moved between businesses to be from premises that are officially inspected on an annual basis, with testing of symptomatic plants, in addition to being accompanied by a plant passport.  Currently there is an obligation to issue a plant passport, but with no prescribed requirements to be eligible to issue such documentation.
  • A supplementary requirement to that above, for a sub-set of ‘host plants’, to be from officially inspected sites and systematically tested using a statistically based sampling system, irrespective of whether they show symptoms.  This includes Coffea, Lavandula dentata, Nerium oleander, Olea europeae, Polygala myrtifolia and Prunus dulcis).  This additional requirement reflects the fact that these genera/species are regarded as those which potentially represent an increased risk, due to the level of disease incidence in the EU.  This requirement takes effect from 1 March 2018, to ensure that plants traded in the 2018 season are covered, while avoiding blocking movement of such plants currently in circulation and which do not meet the requirement.  
  • Suppliers and recipients of this sub-set of plants to maintain records of movements for 3 years.
  • Requirements for third country imports updated in line with those for EU movements.

Overall, this is a very good outcome, representing a balance of changes, to strengthen protection for those parts of the EU which do not have Xylella, ensuring a more proportionate approach to findings, as well as providing additional options for those areas where the disease is established.  While the new measures should increase protection against the spread of Xylella, we will continue to keep the risk situation under review and we also urge those in the industry to continue to source plants carefully.

APHA will produce guidance on what these changes mean for clients in England and Wales and Devolved Administrations will be going through the same process.  

Yours sincerely

Professor Nicola Spence

Chief Plant Health Officer for the UK

The full EU text can be viewed here:

Xylella draft Decision 11090-2017.pdf


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