Apple and stonefruit group willing to engage in discussions
Apple and stonefruit group willing to engage in meaningful discussions with MPI following High Court judgment
The group of five industry members who joined together to challenge MPI’s directive for nurseries and orchardists to contain and/or destroy tens of thousands of apple (Malus) and stonefruit (Prunus) plants has received the High Court judgment and is currently reviewing this in detail.
The judge found that the MPI directions, issued under s116 of the Biosecurity Act were unlawful and has directed MPI to reconsider.
The judgment encourages MPI to work with industry to develop and agree a more appropriate set of directions that address their key biosecurity concerns.
The industry members have always been willing to undertake meaningful dialogue with MPI in order to achieve an appropriate outcome, and now look forward to an improved level of engagement from MPI.
Whilst discussions are underway, the interim order applies for a further five days (see note below).
Kerry Sixtus of Pattullo’s Nurseries said, “We are encouraged by the High Court judgment and will move forward to engage with MPI as quickly as possible in order to achieve a suitable position that accommodates the needs of both parties.
“The group has always believed that MPI should have taken a more considered approach to this issue from day one, rather than a blanket seizure of all plant material.
“We have now proven, and the High Court Judge has recognised, that MPI was using a sledge hammer to crack a nut.
“This now provides us with the opportunity to define a course of action for the different varieties and for the plants at different stages of growth.
“This has been a costly distraction for us during an incredibly busy time of year, but we are willing to move forward and salvage what we can from this bureaucratic mess,” added Kerry.
The group launched a judicial review in the High Court, seeking the MPI directive to be overturned on the basis that it involved an unlawful seizure, relied upon an erroneous classification of the trees as “unauthorised goods”, and was unreasonable.
On Friday 17 August, at the close of the two-day hearing, Justice Cooke put in place an interim order requiring the parties to contain selected plant materials in an appropriate quarantine facility and allowing all other plant material to remain in situ and be subject to a spraying and/or netting programme agreed with MPI. The interim order also protected the parties from prosecution for failing to comply with MPI’s directive for five days following judgment.