24th October 2017

Sir Nicholas Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of bio-security controls on the number of trees imported; and if he will make a statement.

Dr Thérèse Coffey, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Environment: There is systematic screening of pest and disease risks which may be introduced through the trade in live trees. We carry out risk-based inspections at our borders to prevent the entry of such pests. Our inspectors are highly effective in comparison to their peers: the UK consistently makes more interceptions of harmful organisms than any other EU member state (around 40% of the total for the EU).

We have strengthened EU regulations through the introduction of protected zones for high risk pests and statutory notification schemes for firewood and tree species at risk, for example, plane, oak, sweet chestnut and prunus. Over the last two years we have seen a 36% decrease in the number of imported oak and pine trees and a 65% decrease in the number of imported sweet chestnut.

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