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Brexit rules see export orders for trees axed in Northern Ireland

Brexit rules see 100,000 export orders for trees axed as Northern Ireland cancels deliveries from Britain

  • Rules state plants cannot be imported into Northern Ireland with soil on roots
  • Problem with list of plants prohibited from being imported from third countries 
  • The Woodland Trust in the country has cancelled an order for 22,000 trees
  • Northern Ireland wants to plant more than 18million saplings in next ten years 

Changes to import rules post-Brexit have forced Northern Ireland to cancel orders for 100,000 trees from England, Wales and Scotland.

But under the Brexit agreement, trees from the EU are still allowed in.

The rules – that came into force on January 1 as part of the Northern Ireland protocol – states plants cannot be imported into Northern Ireland if they have soil on their roots, or have been grown in soil.

This in effect makes it impossible to export trees there.

Another problem stems from a list of plants and trees the EU prohibits being imported from third countries – which now includes the UK – to limit diseases and pests spreading. 

The rules – that came into force on January 1 as part of the Northern Ireland protocol – states plants cannot be imported into Northern Ireland if they have soil on their roots, or have been grown in soil (file image)

This list includes oaks, alder, birch and privet hedges.

The ban comes as Northern Ireland has embarked on an ambitious programme to plant more than 18million saplings in the next ten years. 

The Woodland Trust in the country has cancelled an order for 22,000 trees, which were earmarked for schools and communities as part of a greening project.

Gregor Fulton an estate manager at the Trust told The Guardian: ‘It’s a disaster. They’re just stopping any exports from mainland UK. 

‘We can’t get any trees over from any of the nurseries that we would usually deal with over there.’

Scotland-based Alba Trees, one of the biggest suppliers in Britain, selling around 250,000 trees a year to Northern Ireland, says it has also been hit.

The Woodland Trust in the country has cancelled an order for 22,000 trees, which were earmarked for schools and communities as part of a greening project (file image)

Chief executive Craig Turner said: ‘At a stroke Brexit has taken away a huge chunk of our business. 

‘We turned down an order of 70,000 oaks a couple of weeks ago because we can’t ship them.’

Belfast City Council, which was planning to plant a million trees, confirmed it had a delivery of ‘300 large specimen trees’ from a supplier in England delayed.

The Department for the Environment said it was looking to get plant health rules changed to allow exports again. 

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