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Urgent questions about the new BCPs remain unanswered, says the HTA

by | 26 Mar 24 | News

With just one month to go, the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) and its members are seeking immediate government intervention ahead of the 30 April Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) changes.

Despite the BCPs imminent risk to the UK’s horticultural businesses, the Association says urgent questions remained unanswered.

The association says the sector is seeking a solution that allows BCPs to open while sustaining the current Place of Destination (PoD) scheme and unlocking barriers to Control Point access.

James Barnes, HTA chairman, reiterates the importance of the sector, saying: “Environmental horticulture imports nearly £800 million of plants and plant material that services all stages of production and the supply chain in the UK.

“The April changes turn on its head how we currently operate.”

He goes on to say the insufficient information at this stage “threatens the UK’s biosecurity and sector viability, and increases the likelihood and reduced choice shelves just when we see the peak time for people to prepare their gardens for summer.”

Barnes adds that “urgent action” is needed to avoid damaging a sector that contributes “£28.8 billion to GDP” as well as “employing nearly 700,000 jobs critical to health, wellbeing, environment and net-zero target delivery.”

Other members of the HTA are already incurring additional operation costs ahead of the BTOM changes, Peter and Helleentje Walker, from Wack’s Wicked Plants says: “We have had to decide to combine all orders we would potentially have this year into one big delivery.”

The nursery has also had to invest in a new polytunnel because a number of the plants being ordered ahead of schedule come from a heated greenhouse.

Rachel Blakey from Plants Limited adds that she does not believe that “the current BCPs will be equipped and experienced in the current time scale to deal with the flow of traffic at peak season or to handle the larger Italian loads and mature trees for inspection.”

Earlier this month the HTA issued an urgent plea to prime minister Rishi Sunak, warning of the imminent risks to SMEs and job security imposed by the new BCPs.

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