To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made as to whether there are sufficient supplies of heat-treated pallets to meet EU regulations covering the transport of products from 1 Jan 2021.
After the end of the Transition Period, all wood packaging material (WPM) moving between Great Britain (GB) and the EU must be treated and appropriately marked in compliance with international standards (ISPM 15). This is in line with international requirements for trade and is in place to protect both the EU and GB from harmful plant pests and diseases.
Defra has established a strong relationship with the WPM industry. The UK Timber Pallet and Packaging Confederation (TIMCON), the Freight Transport Association , National Association of Pallet Distributors, the European Federation of Wooden Pallet and Packaging Manufacturers (FEFPEB) and the Closed Pallet Pooling Coalition have been working hard with Defra and industry to ensure there are sufficient compliant pallets available for 1 January 2021. This will ensure our biosecurity is maintained and trade continues to flow with as little disruption as possible.
The WPM industry have been working tirelessly to both increase the stock of compliant WPM and to grow our WPM treatment capacity by increasing the number of heat treatment facilities (kilns) and their hours of operation and by simplifying and improving ISPM15 processes to reduce the time needed to treat their WPM. In a recent survey of the industry, 70% of respondents indicated they were confident that they would be fully ready by the end of the Transition Period. TIMCON is also strongly encouraging FEFPEB and EU national associations to engage and support their countries’ WPM industries to increase their own stocks of compliant pallets.
Defra, the Forestry Commission and other relevant plant health authorities are continuing to work closely with the WPM sector to address what further actions they need to take to manage this new requirement by the end of the Transition Period.
As there will be no immediate change to the biosecurity threat of WPM originating from the EU at the end of the Transition Period, GB will maintain its current risk-based checking regime for EU WPM.