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.
4 August 2014 - Outcome of the 2013 policy review for Tuta absoluta PDF (254 KB).
22 July 2014 - 2014 Country Consultation on draft International Standards.
12 June 2014 - Defra response to the consultation on Hop stunt viroid (HSVd).
19 March 2014 - New Additions to the UK Plant Health Risk Register.
26 February 2014 - Comments sought on a new Rapid Assessment for Candidatus Phytoplasma ulmi.
21 January 2014 - UK Plant Health Risk Register.
02 January 2014 - Requirements applying to retail sales of seed potatoes.
20 December 2013 - Algae require a phytosanitary certificate for import into the EU.
13 December 2013 - Comments sought on a review of the UK plant health policy for Tuta absoluta.
27 November 2013 - Comments sought on a new Rapid Assessment for Hop stunt viroid (HSVd).
22 November 2013 - Defra response to the Melampsoridium hiratsukanum (alder rust) consultation.
18 November 2013 - Potato Brown Rot river survey results published.
5 November 2013 - Comments sought on new risk assessments for Aleurolobus marlatti (Marlatt whitefly), Citripestis sagittiferella (a citrus fruit boring caterpillar) and Etiella zinckenella (a seed-boring caterpillar of beans and peas).
5 November 2013 - New regulations to protect plane, sweet chestnut and pine trees.
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.