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Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 1404, tabled on 27 June 2017

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the risk to wildlife in the UK from the plant disease Xylella fastidiosa; if he will make it his policy to invoke the precautionary principle to introduce a moratorium on the import of all live plants other than those grown through propagation in sterile conditions; and if he will make a statement.

Answered on

7 July 2017

Keeping our plants and trees healthy is important for our economy, the environment and our health, and our robust approach to protecting against plant health threats involves close collaboration with international partners. This will continue to be the case after we leave the European Union.

Restrictions on the movement of high-risk host plants from the affected areas in the EU are already in place and full inspections take place on host plants from outside the EU. We are now pressing at an EU level for the protections against Xylella fastidiosa to be further strengthened and will continue to keep this issue under review nationally.

Due to the rules of the Single Market, it is currently simpler for the UK to impose restrictions on the import of plants from outside the EU than it is on plants from within the EU where there is a threat to the UK. Within the EU, restrictions are decided at EU level, but outside the EU they can be decided at national level.

Leaving the EU therefore provides an opportunity to examine how we can introduce stricter biosecurity measures on imports from remaining Member States, providing better protection against these serious threats.