Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Exiting the European Union (Plant Health)

Part of Delegated Legislation – in the House of Commons at 3:37 pm on 8th October 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 3:37 pm, 8th October 2019

That intervention leads me neatly to the other thing that we are protecting, so I will answer the hon. Gentleman’s question shortly. The oak processionary moth is native to southern Europe. Its caterpillars eat the leaves of oak trees, thereby affecting the health of the trees. They also shed poisonous hairs that can cause adverse reactions in humans. The majority of the UK is designated as a protection zone against this damaging pest. It is established in many parts of Europe and its distribution has recently expanded, including in the UK, where some cases were found earlier this year. Fortunately, the Government took rapid action—this answers the hon. Gentleman’s question. We have in place a good system: first, we strengthened the existing national protections against the pest by tightening import requirements. The Forestry Commission and the Animal and Plant Health Agency then took swift action to eradicate any signs of the moth, its larvae or its caterpillars. An excellent surveillance system swung into action and lots of work was done to trace the creatures and destroy the caterpillars and, indeed, infested and related trees. All the infested trees were intercepted in the protection zone and any signs of the moths and the trees they attacked have been destroyed. It is important that we ensure the continued operability of the strengthened import requirements, to ensure ongoing protection. That is why we are proceeding with this legislation.