An MEP's drive to protect farmland, gardens and countryside from deadly plant disease has cleared its final legislative hurdle.
A comprehensive set of measures negotiated by Anthea McIntyre to tackle the plant pests that devastate crops and woodland was approved today in Strasbourg at a plenary session of the European Parliament.
The Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, who sits on the parliament's agriculture committee, said: "I am delighted the vast majority of MEPs have voted through my report. It offers robust and rigorous checks against the spread of disease without over-burdening commercial growers or traders with needless obstacles."
As far as the UK is concerned, the measures aim to tackle plant pests by stopping them entering the country. As lead MEP on the legislation, Miss Mcintyre strove to balance steps to counter diseases such as Ash dieback with a regulatory regime that would not needlessly shackle farmers, foresters or the horticulture trade.
When it becomes law, the package will set out new basic standards to ensure EU countries work together to address plant pests and diseases. These include mandatory surveillance for high risk pests and better use of the plant passport system.
Miss McIntyre, herself a small-scale grower, said: "The recent spread of the bacterium xylella fastidiosa, which devastated olive groves, showed the weaknesses in our defences. There are many other pests that will cause the same havoc with other plants and products if we let them.
"This time is was olives, another time it could be plums, pears or potatoes. We need to protect our biodiversity by laying down basic procedures for all 28 Members States to adopt.
"The UK already has robust controls in place but approaches vary widely from country to country. As a continent we are only as strong as the weakest link."
"Plant pests and diseases do not respect borders and it is in the UK's interest that the EU has effective systems in place. This is good legislation, designed by the British, which will remain after we have left the EU."