The response makes five main points;
1) The HTA fully agrees that Chalara fraxinea poses a severe threat to the UK wider environment and supports an import ban to minimise the potential of further introduction of the disease;
2) The HTA encourages a thorough and prompt scientific survey to establish the true extent of the outbreak in the UK. There are already reports of findings in the natural environment in East Anglia. The plant health authorities need to establish Pest Free Area(s) as soon as they can, and strictly control the movement of ash into those areas;
3) Whilst maintaining the UK's biosecurity is of paramount importance, the current uncertainty is causing significant commercial ramifications. To help mitigate the economic damage, the HTA has proposed an interim licencing regime to enable controlled movement of uninfected UK stock until the PFAs have been established, or not;
4) Given that the sporelation period is now over, no further destruction notices should be served until the full extent of the outbreak has been determined. Containment orders should be issued instead. This will avoid unnecessary expenditure in the event that the survey finds that the disease is widespread;
5) And finally, the industry will be seeking compensation from government for any financial losses it incurs. The HTA first expressed its concerns about this disease in 2009 when the plant health authorities responded that the disease was already established in the UK and no quarantine measures were appropriate.
Tim Briercliffe, HTA Director of Business Development added “It is hugely disappointing that Defra have not acted more quickly on this issue as we first raised it with them in 2009 following a Tree and Hedging Group tour to Denmark where the disease was seen first hand. Our advice was to ban imports then. We are looking for Defra to provide compensation for growers that have suffered as a result of this.”
Gill Ormrod, Angela Bean or Cassie King
HTA Media Office
Tel: 0118 9303132
Mobile: 07515 061988
Notes to editors
The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) is the trade association for the UK garden industry. It is dedicated to helping develop the industry and its member businesses, including most garden centres and other garden retailers, growers, landscapers, manufacturers and service providers. The HTA was founded in 1899. Its key roles include: provision of advice-based services such as business improvement schemes, briefings and help lines; training, conferences and events for members; market information and research; promotions such as the National Garden Gift Voucher scheme; and working closely with government and the media to influence policy and projects.