Update on new biosecurity measures

3 April 2020

On Tuesday 31st March Defra introduced legislation which implements new measures for Xylella, as well as new measures for emerald ash borer, canker stain of plane and elm yellows.

The new legislation is summarised here with further details provided in an annex. We recognise the challenges that the horticultural sector and individual businesses are facing at the current time due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and we have reflected carefully on the timing of these new regulations, but believe it is important to proceed now to protect the UK’s biosecurity. These new measures will come into force on 21st April 2020.

Xylella fastidiosa

Under the new measures the import of Coffea and Polygala myrtifolia is prohibited, with stronger import requirements for other high-risk hosts (i.e Olive, Almond, Nerium Oleander, Lavender and Rosemary). 

Agrilus planipennis (Emerald ash borer)

Given the ongoing uncertainty about the full extent of this pest’s distribution, and its confirmed spread into Ukraine, Defra are introducing measures to apply import requirements to countries within 100km of outbreak areas, which brings Ukraine into scope, as well as Belarus and Kazakhstan. Defra are also removing the option within EU legislation to remove the bark and sapwood to a depth of 2.5 cm for all countries regulated for the purposes of Agrilus planipennis, due to the risk of importing wood which has not properly met the official requirements. This change has already been recognised for US and Canada following audit findings which highlighted that this option could not be administered or enforced reliably. These issues have not been addressed by EU legislation and so there remains an unacceptable level of pest risk. 

Ceratocystis platani (Canker stain of plane)

Defra are reverting to the Protected Zone requirements which applied until 14th December 2019. For plants of Platanus L., intended for planting, other than seeds, this will mean that they must have been grown throughout their life in a pest free area or EU protected zone. The requirements apply to imports to the UK from Albania, Armenia, Switzerland, Turkey, the United States and the EU-27 and should be confirmed by an official statement.