Nurseries and garden centres across Britain and Europe are grappling with significant operational challenges following the implementation of new post-Brexit border regulations. These measures, introduced in April, require rigorous inspections of plant and animal products from the EU at designated border posts, replacing the previous system of sporadic checks at nurseries. The Horticultural Trade Association, together with European counterparts, has urgently appealed for solutions, citing a drastic 25% increase in import costs under the new regime.

Reports indicate that the border checks have caused severe delays, with some deliveries held up to 44 hours. Concerns abound regarding potential risks of introducing pests and diseases into Britain due to these delays. Logistics have been severely impacted, leading to financial strain on importers. For instance, one haulage company reported 93 hours of driver waiting time in just the first week, resulting in an additional £38,000 in costs. Tragically, these delays have resulted in significant losses as entire shipments of plants have perished, disrupting supply chains and jeopardizing businesses.

In response to mounting pressures from industry leaders such as the International Flower Trade Association and VGB, an open letter has underscored the impracticalities and increased costs imposed by the new inspection regime, particularly for smaller enterprises. There are also concerns about the efficacy of border post checks and the potential for overlooking critical disease detections.

The government has assured stakeholders of its commitment to maintaining robust biosecurity standards through efficient inspection processes. Nevertheless, the situation has sparked widespread calls for a comprehensive review of the new border inspection procedures. The aim is to strike a balance that ensures the health of imported plants without placing undue burdens on businesses, thereby safeguarding the horticultural trade in Britain and Europe.

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