There are many plant pests and diseases, which if they were to become established in Great Britain, could cause serious damage to our crops and plants. Official controls and restrictions on the import, movement and keeping of plants, plant pests and other material (e.g. soil) are vital to help prevent the introduction and spread of harmful organisms.
Protecting plant health is a shared responsibility between Government, growers, traders and the general public. There are two main elements to plant health. Quarantine measures are taken to keep foreign pests out of areas where they could cause damage to crops, trees and wild plants. Measures are based on a scientific assessment of the risks. They may include rules restricting import and movement of plants and plant produce, or specifying treatments or inspections which have to be carried out. Surveys and publicity increase the chance that outbreaks are detected early while they can still be eradicated. Certification ensures that high quality planting material, substantially free from plant pests and diseases, is available to growers. For example all seed potatoes sold in the UK are certified.
Fera's Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate (PHSI) is responsible for implementing the plant health Regulations in England and Wales, on behalf of Defra and the Welsh Government. The Scottish Government is responsible for implementation in Scotland. Separate but similar arrangements apply in Northern Ireland.
Fera's PHSI, together with the devolved administrations and the Forestry Commission (FC) forms the UK Plant Health Service and works with other EC Member States and the European Commission to agree appropriate plant health rules for Europe and co-ordinate their implementation. A range of services are available to help growers, traders and the general public meet their obligations under these plant health rules.
Please note that Defra is responsible for policy relating to tree and plant health matters. Questions relating to issues of policy in these areas should be directed to Defra.
25 April 2013 - Update: Investigation into suspect ring rot outbreak.
10 April 2013 - Comments sought on EU proposal to deregulate Monilinia fructicola.
6 April 2013 - The Plant Health (Fees) (England) Regulations 2013 and The Plant Health (Export Certification) (England) (Amendment) Order 2013 come into force. The Statutory Instruments laid before Parliament on 7 March and 14 March respectively to introduce new fees for statutory plant health services came into effect. Details of the new fees payable from 6 April are available here.
21 March 2013 - Comments sought on new rapid assessments for Aromia bungii (the peach red-necked longhorn, plum and peach longhorn or red-necked longhorn beetle) and European mountain ash ringspot associated virus (EMARAV)
20 March 2013 - The Plant Health Guide for Importers and Plant Health Guide to Plant Passporting and Marketing Requirements have been updated.
15 March 2013 - Russian Federation ban on imports from EU Countries from the 1st June 2013.
As a result of a disagreement with the EU Commission on the implementation of International Standards for phytosanitary measures, the Russian Federation have informed the Commission that from 1st June 2013, they intend to introduce a temporary ban on the import from EU countries of seed potatoes, ware potatoes, horticultural planting material, (including seed), and decorative plant/forest material. The ban is subject to ongoing negotiations between the Russian Federation and the EU Commission.
If you have any questions regarding this ban please contact .
6 February 2013 - Update: Investigation into suspect ring rot outbreak.
23 January 2013 - To help importers understand the new requirements for notification of tree imports a list of questions and answers has been published by Defra.
18 January 2013 - Fera is investigating a suspect outbreak of potato ring rot in the East of England. Click here for more details.
17 January 2013 - The Plant Health (England) (Amendment) Order 2013 comes into force
Statutory notification requirements concerning the import of specified genera of trees: Platanus (Plane), Quercus (Oak), Castanea (Sweet chestnut) and Fraxinus (Ash) came into effect on 17 January 2013. These changes will help to protect the UK's plant health status, by strengthening measures already in place in relation to imports of trees. Initially the new requirements apply in England only, where the vast majority of imports take place, but there is close liaison with Devolved Administrations who are considering their positions. Details of the notification requirements can be found in the letter sent by Defra to importers and trade associations on 17 January.
4 January 2013 - Fera has confirmed the presence of ring rot in ware potatoes imported from Poland and processed in Wales. Click here for more details.
14 December 2012 - The Plant Health (England) (Amendment) Order 2012 comes into force
This Order amends the Plant Health (England) Order 2005 to include measures to prevent the introduction and spread of Chalara fraxinea.
7 December 2012 - The Plant Health (England) (Amendment) (No.2) Order 2012 comes into force
This Order amends the Plant Health (England) Order 2005 in requiring potatoes originating from Poland and imported into England to be accompanied by an official certificate confirming that the potatoes have been found to be free from Clavibacter michiganensis ssp sepedonicus (Ring rot) in official laboratory tests. It also introduces notification requirements for ware potatoes imported from Romania, Spain and Portugal. Existing notification requirements are retained for seed potatoes imported from any source.
7 December 2012 - Outcome of the consultation on Chalara fraxinea is now live
6 December 2012 - Notification letter about the import of potatoes:
Review of the EC Plant Health Regime
A review of the Plant Health regime is currently in progress. To download the Review, please click here
For more information on EU Plant Health rules, please follow this link
A more detailed account of the principles and practice of plant health is given in Defra's Plant Health Strategy for England.