Taskforce recommendations on plant health welcomed

Ash pollard at Borrowdale © Brian Muelaner

Ash pollard at Borrowdale

Latest update 20.05.2013 15:50

In response to the publication of the independent taskforce report on tree health and plant biosecurity, announced today by the Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, Dr Simon Pryor, Director of the Natural Environment at the National Trust, said:

'This review is much needed, and we are glad the Government is taking the threat to our trees and plants very seriously.

'We welcome the recommendations with the emphasis on simpler, stronger regulation and better security at our borders.

'We are very pleased to see that Government is acting straight away to ban the import of sweet chestnut plants from infected areas; this is just the sort of proactive bold action that is needed.

'The appointment of a Chief Plant Health Officer should give the leadership and drive within Government that we need. Preventing the import of plant pests and diseases will not be achieved without some resistance from those wanting totally free trade and we need this person to be a champion for our trees and gardens and take tough action to protect them.

'After the disaster of ash dieback we are relieved to see the emphasis on improving intelligence, monitoring and predicting pests and diseases, so that we take advantage of our position as an island status with our natural defences against new epidemics.

'We welcome the fact that Secretary of State has made clear his commitment to plant health. We now implore him to accept and then implement with energy and urgency these recommendations – before the next disaster arrives on our shores.'