Publised date : 04 Feb 2021

Perthshire North MSP, Mr John Swinney, is seeking urgent clarity on the future of the UK plant export industry. 

The move comes after Mr Swinney met virtually with Ken Cox, owner of Glendoick Gardens, to discuss difficulties now facing the plant industry following Brexit. 

Mr Cox was informed by Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA), a Scottish Government team, that soil was now prohibited from entry into the EU and Northern Ireland because of the Brexit deal. As a consequence of this, any UK plant that is to be exported would not be able to contain any soil or have had any contact with soil.

Mr Cox has been advised that the only way of bypassing this legislation was to wash the roots (which would probably kill the plants) or to grow plants in pure peat or coir (palm tree waste imported from Sri Lanka). However, following consistent Government and industry guidance over the last decade, Glendoick and many other growers have either reduced or completely phased out the usage of peat.

As a result, there is currently no feasible way for Glendoick, or plant exporters across the UK, to export their plants to the EU or Northern Ireland

Commenting, Mr Swinney said: 

“Boris Johnson’s hard Brexit deal is a disaster for businesses across Perthshire 

“Glendoick Gardens have in good faith built their business over a number of years, and are a key contributor to our local economy. Ken and his team have had the rug pulled from under their feet with no warning, and their future prospects have been sacrificed at the altar of Brexit. 

“As a matter of urgency, the UK Government must take steps to address this imbalance and secure the long-term viability of this industry. I have written to the UK Government to demand clarity on the situation, and to urge them to engage proactively with Glendoick and other plant exporters to arrive at a solution to this problem.

“It is inconceivable that, as a result of a Brexit deal thrown together at the last minute, the future of an entire industry is now in jeopardy. Those who voted through this deal, and local Perthshire politicians who championed it as a great result for Scotland, would do well to reflect upon the damage they have inflicted on hardworking individuals and businesses across the region and beyond.”

Mr Cox added:

‘Glendoick have become one of Europe’s best known specialist nurseries since it was founded in 1953, supplying all the major gardens, botanical institutions, nurseries and private customers.

“It seems that all this in in jeopardy. Glendoick’s specialist nursery is quite likely to be unsustainable if we cannot access our main markets. Our largest customers in recent years have been in Ireland. It could all so easily have been avoided if we had stayed in the single market.”

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