Plant Health legislation for forestry

This guide gives an overview of Plant Health legislation for forestry in England for Forestry Commission staff and contract inspectors working in the sector.

Applies to England

Plant Health legislation

Plant Health regulations on biosecurity standards for the agri-food chain include the regulation of pests of trees and wood. The regulation takes a risk-based approach to plant protection, and the pest and disease control measures are stringent. The principal Plant Health regulations are EU regulations, amended and retained after EU Exit:

These regulations are given effect in England by The Official Controls (Plant Health and Genetically Modified Organisms) (England) Regulations 2019, which came into force on 14 January 2020.

This regulation replaces the following orders, which have been revoked:

  • The Plant Health (Forestry) Order 2005 and subsequent amending SIs
  • The Plant Health (Export Certification) (Forestry) (Great Britain) Order 2004
  • The Plant Health (Wood Packaging Material Marking) Order 2006

Similar legislation applies in Scotland and Wales.

The Dutch Elm Disease (Local Authorities) Order 1984

Subsequent amendments include SI 1988 No. 604.

The Dutch Elm Disease (Local Authorities) Order 1984 sets out the powers available to certain local authorities, as listed in the schedule to the order, to take steps to prevent the spread of Dutch elm disease. Each local authority may exercise the powers only in respect of their own area. Officers (appointed by the local authority) who suspect the presence on any premises of elm trees infected by this disease may, on production of their authority (if so required), enter on any land to inspect trees and to take samples. Where the disease is present, the officer may either take action himself, or he may require the owner or occupier to do so, to prevent the spread of the disease by destroying the tree, usually by burning on site. Exceptionally, the officer may authorise the removal of the tree to another place for destruction. The order also prescribes offences and penalties for failing to comply with a notice served.

Plant Health Act 1967

The primary legislation governing plant health in Great Britain is the Plant Health Act 1967 (c.8). This prescribes the Forestry Commissioners as the “competent authority in Great Britain as regards the protection of forest trees and timber”. The Act empowers the Forestry Commissioners to:

  • make orders to prevent the introduction and spread of forestry pests and diseases
  • require local authorities to undertake certain work to prevent the spread of specified pests or diseases

It also makes provision for the creation of offences and imposition of fees for certain work.

The Plant Health (Fees) (Forestry) (England and Scotland) Regulations 2015

The Plant Health (Fees) (Forestry) (England and Scotland) Regulations 2015 provide for fees to be charged by the Forestry Commission for certain plant health services in the timber trade sector, including plant health examinations (namely documentary checks, identity checks and plant health checks on certain wood, wood products and bark imported from third countries). They also provide for fees for:

  • inspections in connection with an authority to issue plant passports
  • applications and inspections related to licences
  • applications for export phytosanitary certification
  • authorisation to apply the ISPM 15 mark to wood packaging

They fees were amended in England on 15 July 2021 to make inflationary adjustments to the cost of providing the export phytosanitary certification service and an authority to issue plant passports. You can find the Statutory Instrument that relates to this change at The Plant Health (Fees) (Forestry) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021.

In Wales, the relevant fees legislation is the Plant Health (Fees) (Forestry) (Wales) Regulations 2019.

Published 26 September 2018
Last updated 15 July 2021 + show all updates
  1. Fee changes

  2. Change in regulations

  3. Update to regulations prior to EU Exit

  4. This page has been updated with information on EU Plant Health legislation, the Dutch Elm Disease (Local Authorities) Order 1984, the Plant Health Act 1967 and the Plant Health (Fees) (Forestry) (England and Scotland) Regulations 2015.

  5. First published.