Plant Health Exports Audited Trader Scheme - Scottish membership: BRIA - partial

This final partial business and regulatory impact assessment (BRIA) supplements our consultation that aimed to get the views of interested parties who export low-risk fruit, vegetables and cut flowers, to join the Plant Health Exports Audited Trader Scheme (PHEATS) which has been operational in England and Wales.

Plant Health Exports Audited Trader Scheme (PHEATS) - Scottish Membership - Final Partial Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment

Purpose and intended effect


Following the UK's exit from the 'European Union' (EU), exports of plant products such as fruit, vegetables and cut flowers require export certification in the form of a 'phytosanitary certificate' (PC) when exporting to the EU and 'Northern Ireland' (NI).

PHEATS is a voluntary trade facilitation scheme developed by the 'Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' (DEFRA) for exports of low-risk fruit, vegetables and cut flowers to the EU and NI from England and Wales.


To seek feedback from Scottish export businesses on their interest and value in being part of PHEATS. This will allow the 'Scottish Government' (SG) to consider if there is a benefit in rolling out the voluntary PHEATS scheme in Scotland.

Introducing PHEATS would allow Scottish businesses the same opportunities as those in England and Wales when exporting low-risk fruit, vegetables and cut flowers to the EU and NI. Exporters who operate 'just-in-time' logistics can export their goods more quickly themselves, by doing their own inspections, which frees up valuable time through not having to wait for an official inspection to be undertaken. Applying for a PC when needed, allows exporters to send their goods to customers when they are ready. These factors together save time, increase export capacity and reduce administrative requirements.

Rationale for Government intervention

The SG wants to ensure the best trading environment for Scottish businesses. Since Brexit, exports of low-risk cut flowers, fruit, and vegetables to the EU and NI have required a PC for those goods being exported to the EU. This requires extra resources for SG inspectors and businesses.

Joining PHEATS would remove the requirement for SG inspectors to attend authorised premises in person to carry out inspections every time a PC is required. Instead, inspections will be carried out by an 'Authorised Person' (AP) who has received training through the scheme. Once they have confirmed that a consignment meets the applicable plant health requirements, a PC can be requested from SG inspectors, who maintain oversight of the scheme through monitoring and auditing functions. PHEATS may also be extended to other sectors in the future.

Background to phytosanitary certification

Regulated plants and plant products need to meet the import requirements of the receiving country in accordance with the 'International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures' (ISPMs), stated in the 'International Plant Protection Convention' (IPPC) as an intergovernmental treaty that protects the world's plant resources from the spread and introduction of pests, and promotes safe trade. The SG is the 'National Plant Protection Organisation' (NPPO) in Scotland who is solely responsible for conducting plant health inspections, and whom can only issue a PC.

Under specific circumstances, third parties may be authorised to perform specific phytosanitary actions on behalf of the NPPO under the 'Official Controls Regulation' 2017/625 (OCR), and the Official Controls (Animals, Feed and Food, Plant Health etc.) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 with the exception of the issuance of PCs. In this light, PHEATS enables an AP to undertake devolved phytosanitary inspections (and uphold phytosanitary security), which is the physical inspection of all produce exported under PHEATS. This contrasts with exports outside of PHEATS, where the SG conduct all physical inspections of exported plant commodities. The NPPO retains ultimate responsibility for ensuring the phytosanitary actions have been performed according to the NPPO's requirements.


To be eligible to join PHEATS, the applicant must export low-risk fruit, veg or cut flowers. A business can apply for membership using the PHEATS application form, (that will be hosted on the SASA website) and they must identify one 'Person Responsible' (PR) for overall management of the scheme who acts as a point of contact with the SG. AP(s) are also nominated to be authorised to conduct the official export inspections. After nomination, the PR and the AP(s) must do the online training and pass the in-person audits. A business must implement and monitor an approved 'Biosecurity Control Management Plan' (BCMP) for PHEATS (which you can see in the PHEATS user guide).


Following review of an application, the PR and the AP(s) will be sent a link to online pest, disease and export application training. The links to further PHEATS guidance for training and testing will be detailed on the SASA website. All AP(s) and the PR must complete the training and pass the assessments for the application to progress. Each module has an online test that must be passed to complete the training.

Upon completion of the pest & disease and export application training and assessments, an SG inspector will arrange an authorisation inspection of the business in accordance with the requirements of the BCMP. This includes AP(s) and the PR demonstrating the implementation of the BCMP (parts A and B). All candidate AP(s) and the PR must attend the inspection training at this visit, and pass an assessment.

Acceptance onto PHEATS will be decided by an independent representative of the SG. Once these steps have been completed, and the business is accepted onto PHEATS, then they become an 'Authorised Business' (AB).

Biosecurity control management

Plant health biosecurity concerns the procedures and measures put in place by the AB, PR and AP(s), to protect against the introduction and movement of harmful pests and diseases. This relates to consignments exported from Great Britain, for example, by identifying plant health risks and implementing action to mitigate these risks. The BCMP for PHEATS is designed to ensure the points made above. The BCMP is a checklist of necessary steps to follow, to ensure effective plant biosecurity, and the sections are:

  • Authorised Person(s): names and details of the APs.
  • Commodities, country of export and country of origin: provide a list of goods to be sent to the exporting country, and the times they will be sent each week.
  • Site Plan: e.g. label the inspection area and post-inspection holding area.
  • Conflict of Interest: declare any conflict of interest.

Inspecting consignments

Once accepted onto PHEATS, the AP(s) will be authorised to inspect commodities exported under PHEATS. The responsibility of the phytosanitary function of official inspection is delegated to the AP(s) as per Article 31(2) of the retained OCR who may carry out this function only in relation to PHEATS.

To ensure consignments meet the plant health requirements of the importing country, at least one AP must officially inspect every consignment being exported under PHEATS at the business site, to ensure consignments are free from pests and diseases, and that it meets the importing country's requirements.

Phytosanitary certification of consignments

Following the export consignment passing the physical official inspection undertaken by an AP(s), an application for export can be made to the SG for a PC for those commodities that have passed the official inspection. Where goods have not passed the physical inspection, this will need to be recorded in the official records, and be made available to the SG upon request.

Provided the PC application is successful, the physical PC and two copies will be posted on the application day. Also, a pdf scan of the original and a cover letter stating the original will be posted is included. Submission of an application will be taken to mean that the goods subject to the application have passed their physical inspection, and meet the importing country's plant health requirements.

Goods eligible for export

All fruit, vegetables and cut flowers can be exported under PHEATS.

This scheme only covers regulated goods for which a PC is required for import. Commodities that do not require a PC, and commodities that are prohibited in the importing country, are not within the scope of this scheme. PHEATS does not currently include the exports of:

  • Plants for planting
  • Plant products
  • Seeds
  • Grain
  • Used machinery
  • Wood and wood products
  • Potatoes (seed and ware)

DEFRA have indicated that they plan to extend PHEATS in the near future to include the export of ware potatoes. There is the possibility of used machinery coming into scope as well. Scottish businesses could also benefit from any extension in the scope of PHEATS, and SG are working with DEFRA on this. PHEATS is a voluntary scheme and the normal export process will remain in place, however, we will engage with Scottish ware potato and used machinery businesses on the option of using the scheme should the extension in scope proceed to gauge interest.

Further information



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