Re: Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL
On the production and making available on the market of plant reproductive
material (plant reproductive material law) COM/2013/0262 final - 2013/0137
I am writing to express my strong concern and objections both in principle
and on personal grounds to the proposed regulation of the marketing of plants.
At a personal level, I run a plant nursery based in Cheshire and I can confirm
that if the regulations are passed as planned, my rural nursery, livelihood
and the livelihood of my five part time staff would become, in effect, illegal,
since 80% of the plants I grow (organically and peat-free) would not meet
and would be unlikely ever to meet the requirements of the regulation. I
could not continue to trade based on the remaining 20% of formally listed
stock. There are hundreds such businesses around the UK that would be similarly
I would also have to close Bluebell Cottage Gardens, a lovely rural RHS
Partner garden which attracts around 7,000 visitors a year, as it is cross-subsidised
by the nursery.
My main objections on the wider questions of principle are as follows:
- What is the public benefit served by these regulations?
- Where is there a wrong that needs to be put right?
I believe there is none at all. There is no public health issue, or
safety concern, nor a public commercial problem.
- Not one person has ever complained or sought redress
for any of the 100,000 plants I have sold in the past seven years because
they were not formally registered in the way described. Quite the reverse.
We offer choices not available in mainstream garden centres, which is
exactly why people visit us. All the plants we offer are listed in the
RHS Plant Finder.
- The effect of these regulations would simply be to
remove long-established and prospective new plants from circulation,
where they are not likely to sell in the hundreds of thousands required
to justify the cost of registration, but are currently traded freely
on common knowledge or the customer seeing the parent plant from which
it was propagated. Ask yourself, who wants this law passed? Might it
be those organisations which do register their plants (and they are
free to do so and enjoy the commercial protection thus provided) in
order to restrict competition?
- Trades Description laws can readily deal with any complaint
that a customer might make regarding a plant which does not meet a customer's
expectation, like any other product. No law is required specifically
to address ornamental plant naming. What would be next? Must jewellers
register their new designs with a two page description before they may
sell them? Must hairdressers register styles they invent? These proposals
have no precedent and may open a new wave of unnecessary, restrictive
- Prestigious internationally recognised events such as
RHS Chelsea, Hampton Court and Tatton Show rely heavily on nurseries
showing unusual, rare, new or recovered varieties to sustain the level
of consumer and media interest. I am an exhibitor at RHS Shows and my
fellow exhibitors and I firmly believe that removing unlisted plants
may well render these shows unviable.
- Exempting small nurseries from the regulations is no
solution. Smaller nurseries like mine rely on larger wholesale nurseries
to produce plants in greater quantities than we can, or where specialist
propagation is needed. Supply would simply dry up and a valuable UK
and European industry would be decimated.
- If passed, the regulations would be completely unworkable.
Who is going to write the descriptions and then police any transgressions?
The only people with the relevant knowledge at the detailed level required
work in the nurseries that would be affected. As they are likely to
be put out of business, or simply stop producing plants that they cant
sell, there will be no-one with the knowledge to assess transgressors.
I have heard these regulations described
as a sledgehammer to crack a nut. That is an incorrect analogy.
The actual position is that there is simply no nut in need of cracking.
These regulations need to be completely scrapped and I urge you to ensure
this is what happens.
I have been in business in the UK for almost 25 years. I have paid every
scrap of tax, obeyed every law and am proud to be an entrepreneur in the
UK. Having finally created a wonderful, healthy, environmentally friendly
business that I really want to run well into my retirement I do not want
to face the choice of closing it down or running it quasi-legally because
of an ill-considered, pointless, unenforceable EU law.
Bluebell Cottage Gardens and Nursery