The Windsor Framework (Plant Health) Regulations 2023
Commencement: 1st October 2023
Amends: The Plant Health (Official Controls and Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020
The Plant Health (Official Controls and Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 allow competent authorities in Northern Ireland to enforce European Union (EU) Regulations in relation to plant health. They are supplementary to the following EU Regulations which are directly applicable in Northern Ireland:
- Regulation (EU) 2016/2031 on protective measures against pests of plants (‘EU Plant Health Regulation’); and
- Regulation (EU) 2017/625 on official controls and other official activities performed to ensure the application of food and feed law, rules on animal health and welfare, plant health and plant protection products (‘EU Official Controls Regulation’).
The EU Plant Health Regulation and the EU Official Controls Regulation establish controls and restrictions which apply to the import into the EU, and the movement between EU Member States, of certain plants, plant pests and other material (such as soil) to help reduce biosecurity risk, strengthen the current plant health regime, and protect the environment from the spread of harmful pests and diseases.
Under the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which forms part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, Northern Ireland is treated as though it remains part of the EU (though technically it has left the EU along with the rest of the UK). This means that EU Regulations continue to be directly enforceable in Northern Ireland.
Despite the EU Regulations being directly applicable, these domestic Regulations are needed so that competent authorities in Northern Ireland are able to carry out duties around plant health. This includes enforcing both EU Regulations.
The competent authority in Northern Ireland is the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (‘the Department’) who is responsible for the official controls for:
- plant pests, plants, plant products and other objects; and
- professional operators.
These Regulations revoke and replace The Plant Health (Official Controls and Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2019 (‘2019 Regulations’).Note that these Regulations are very similar to the 2019 Regulations with the main changes being that these Regulations remove unnecessary references and incorporate further EU Implementing Decisions that have come into force since the 2019 Regulations came into force in December 2019.
Various duties apply.
Starting from 1st October 2023, seed potatoes from Great Britain are allowed to be planted in Northern Ireland, provided they arrive in Northern Ireland with a Northern Ireland plant health label (NIPHL)*. The Windsor Framework (Plant Health) Regulations 2023 defines the label’s requirements.
*NIPHLs act as passports for plants, seeds and certain agricultural / forestry machinery and vehicles, enabling professional operators (i.e. growers and traders) to transport them from Great Britain to Northern Ireland as per the Windsor Framework agreement. The labels ensure these products are checked for pests and diseases and that they can be tracked easily.
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