Imports of plants including olive trees are to be severely restricted in order to stop the spread of the disease Xylella fastidiosa in the UK.
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Almond, rosemary and oleander shrubs are also being restricted to try to halt the bacterium which causes significant damage to trees including olive.
The disease affects over 560 species and poses a threat in the UK to elm, plane and oak trees.
Coffea (coffee plants) imports will be stopped entirely along with Polygala myrtifolia from today, with stronger import requirements for other high-risk hosts (i.e Olive, Almond, Nerium Oleander, Lavender and Rosemary).
In a statement Defra said: “In accordance with Article 52 of EU Plant Health Regulation, we have written to the EU to notify them of measures the UK believes should be taken against certain pests which pose an unacceptable level of pest risk for the UK.
National legislation is being introduced through the Official Controls (Plant Health and Genetically Modified Organisms) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, in response to these new threats, recognising that EU legislation will not provide the required level ofprotection for the time being.”
It added: “The UK has significant concerns about the risk of plant material infected with Xylella fastidiosa being moved within the EU, as well as the risk of introductions
from third countries. The interception of infected olive trees by Belgium and the recent case on Vinca in Italy, demonstrate that there is a risk of infected plants being moved without visual symptoms. ”