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Does Brexit risk more plant and animal diseases? Lords debate biosecurity report

On Wednesday 15 May, the House of Lords debated the EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee’s report "Brexit: plant and animal biosecurity."

19 May 2019, at 12:00am

The Committee’s report concluded that the UK’s biosecurity could be at risk if the UK loses access to EU alerts on animal and plant pest and disease threats.

As geographical proximity means that the EU will always be a key source of biosecurity risks to the UK, the Committee stressed the need to maintain swift and effective information sharing mechanisms, as well as the need to increase veterinary, inspection and audit capabilities to meet the demand for additional plant and animal health checks post-Brexit.

Since the Committee published its report, the Government has stated that in a in a ‘no deal’ scenario they will allow most imports from the EU to enter the UK without any additional checks. While this decision removes much of the concern about capacity to conduct biosecurity checks, it raises questions about how the Government will safeguard the UK’s biosecurity. Therefore during the debate members asked the Government:

  • How long they envisage this regime of minimal checks on EU plant and animal imports to be in place for
  • ​What assessment they have made of the biosecurity risk of such an approach
  • How long they think it will be before the UK has the resources necessary to check all EU imports with the same rigour as third country imports