The Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Group (OHRG) has welcomed a record number of parliamentarians at its annual breakfast briefing (Tuesday, 23 May) at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023.
The meeting, facilitated by The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), gave members from both Houses the opportunity to hear from core OHRG partner organisations – the Arboricultural Association, the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI), the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA), and the RHS itself.
This special briefing, from all corners of horticulture, was opened by Clare Matterson, the Director-General of the RHS, and Boyd Douglas-Davies, the Chair of OHRG, followed by briefings from OHRG sub-groups:
- James Barnes, HTA Chairman and chair of the Commercial sub-group, outlined the industry’s key commercial challenges – from rising costs to water resilience, challenges with cross-border trade and the need for a sustainable and supported transition from peat use.
- Martin Emmett, NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board chair and chair of the Education & Employment sub-group covered the need for investment in training, to set seasonal workers schemes on a firm footing, the need to attract more talent and entrants to the sector and ambitions for the industry from the Migration Advisory Committee’s recent Shortage Occupation List review.
- Wayne Grills, BALI’s Chief Executive and chair of the Planning & Infrastructure sub-group, outlined the need to incorporate green spaces into our future urban planning and a better planning permission strategy to support the growth of the horticultural sector.
- Professor Alistair Griffiths, the Director of Science & Collections for the RHS and Research & Development sub-group chair, outlined how the ‘original green economy’ industry plays a vital role in the fight against climate change.
Parliamentarians attending included the Gardening All-Party Parliamentary Group Chair, Baroness Fookes, MPs from all parties, and House of Lords Horticulture Inquiry Committee representatives.
Discussions covered all aspects of the sector’s opportunities and challenges – including the weather and expectations for Summer, having had a late Spring. A clear commitment and passion to the industry was heard – including the need to ensure gardening, horticulture and landscaping sectors can be as inclusive and accessible as possible, given the huge economic, environmental and health & well-being benefits it gives. Many of these were themes from the OHRG’s ‘Unlocking green growth: A plan from the ornamental horticulture & landscaping industry’, much of which remains relevant and key asks for today.
Boyd Douglas-Davies, Chair of the OHRG, commented:
“The OHRG members are delighted to be able to use the spectacular setting of RHS Chelsea to deliver to Parliamentarians a briefing on the short, medium and long-term challenges and opportunities for UK horticulture. The environment we live in is made so much better by horticulture; without it, the world really would be just black and white!
What better way is there to explain this than to walk and talk our way around the world’s greatest flower show with the policy and decision-makers? The OHRG is committed to ensuring that our wonderful industry is far better understood so that it can continue leading Britain’s green growth strategy.”