Northern Ireland soil ban hitting horticulture

Yorkshire-based nursery Johnsons of Whixley has criticised rules which prevent the importation of soil into Northern Ireland, saying the unforeseen ban could cost their business up to £500,000 a year.

The BBC reports that, following the Brexit agreement, Irish Sea border arrangements mean Northern Ireland must apply EU rules on products entering from Great Britain. As a result, not only do plants now need a health certificate but soil, which can carry pests and diseases, is among the products that are completely banned.

Jonathan Whittemore, head of production and procurement at Johnsons, said the firm “didn’t see this coming at all.” He continued, “It basically means we can’t sell plants now into Northern Ireland. Talking to our plant health officer, it became apparent that actually any plants that we’d grown on the nursery here in Yorkshire or brought in from other parts of Europe or other parts of the UK and stood down on the ground here would not be able to go into Northern Ireland. They need to be completely free of any traces of soil.”

Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) chair James Barnes has previously told the BBC that some HTA members are reconsidering trade with NI as a result of added regulations.

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