Poots calls on GB counterparts to take step in over soil and plant trade restrictions

Northern Ireland’s Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has called on his counterparts in the rest of the UK to take action on issues facing the horticulture sector as a result of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The Inter-Ministerial Group for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs includes Ministers from England, Scotland and Wales and will meet this week.

Minister Poots had previously written to Secretary of State George Eustice and Irish Agriculture, Food and Marine (DAFM) Minister Charlie McConalogue regarding the movement of seeds, plants and plant products into Northern Ireland from Great Britain post transition period under the Northern Ireland Protocol.

‘Absolutely vital to the sector’s viability’

Speaking about the issue, Minister Poots said: “As things stand, the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol continues to prevent the marketing in Northern Ireland of many plants, plant products and vegetable seeds from Great Britain that are of significant importance to the agriculture and horticulture sectors.

This includes the movement of soil from third countries, including where it is associated with plants.

“The importance of allowing trade to continue is absolutely vital to the agriculture and horticulture sector’s viability and associated economic activity.

“This is an urgent issue and will have significant impacts on important Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland trade.

“That is why I have written to both the UK Secretary of State George Eustice and Irish Agriculture, Food and Marine (DAFM) Minister Charlie McConalogue to raise these concerns for immediate action.”

Speaking about the passage of the ‘The Plant Health and Diseases of Animals (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations (Northern Ireland) through the Assembly, Minister Poots said: “I’d like to clarify the purpose of the SR debated in the Assembly on December 8, 2020, as there seems to be confusion among some members.

The SR could not change the consequences of the Northern Ireland Protocol, as voted for by the Westminster government.

“The prohibition of the movement of soil from third countries, including where it is associated with plants, are mandatory obligations imposed by the Protocol and the SR could not have changed that.”