NEW national measures have come into effect to safeguard the UK from a range of plant health diseases and pests including Xylella fastidiosa and exotic beetles which can kill ash trees.

These new regulations will add more stringent import requirements to protect UK plant health against these threats.

Xylella: The import of Coffea and Polygala myrtifolia species is now prohibited, due to a high disease rate in these species, as well as stronger import requirements for other high-risk hosts (including olive, almond, nerium oleander, lavender and rosemary).

Emerald ash borer (beetle): New measures applying stronger import controls to countries within 100 km of confirmed outbreak areas. This includes the removal of an option, within EU legislation, to remove the bark and sapwood to a depth of 2.5 cm for all countries regulated for emerald ash borer. This will help mitigate the risk of importing infected wood which has not properly met the official requirements.

Plane tree wilt: More stringent ‘Protected Zone’ requirements for the UK including measures for plane trees intended for planting other than seeds, which must now have been grown throughout their life in a pest-free area or an EU Protected Zone. The new requirements apply to imports to the UK from Albania, Armenia, Switzerland, Turkey, the United States and the EU-27.

UK Chief Plant Health Officer Nicola Spence said: “Protecting our country from tree pests and diseases is key to protecting our environment, economy and our health. That is why we are introducing tighter restrictions on the importation of high-risk host plants and trees for Xylella, emerald ash borer and plane wilt.

“Xylella is a major threat to our landscape and industry and it is more imperative than ever that we do all we can to ensure the UK remains a Xylella-free zone.”