Industry sector:

Plant nursery: Licences


Plant passporting and marketing requirements

As you will be growing commercially certain plants and plant products, under plant health legislation you may be required to apply for producer authorisation and to issue plant passports/supplier documents to accompany the sale of your plants. These confirm that the plant or plant products are substantially free of quality affecting organisms. The Gov.uk website includes details of plant health controls implemented and enforced by the Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate (PHSI), which is part of the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

Plant Health Propagation Scheme (PHPS) certification

The PHPS is a voluntary scheme whereby planting stock for a variety of soft and top fruit crops is certified as being completely free of pests and diseases. You can find out more about the scheme on the Gov.uk website.

Seed potatoes

Seed potatoes grown and marketed in the UK must be classified under the Seed Potato Classification Scheme (SPCS). This makes sure that the seed potatoes are grown from stock that has been tested and found to be free of disease. You can find out more on the Gov.uk website.

Water abstraction licence

You will need to obtain a water abstraction licence if you abstract water for irrigation purposes from any watercourse or underground water reserve. Licences are available from:

  • the Environment Agency in England
  • Natural Resources Wales
  • the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (part of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs - DAERA)
  • the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) in Scotland

Pesticide spraying

Anyone using a plant protection product authorised for professional use must hold a Specified Certificate (previously called a Certificate of Competence). This is awarded following the completion of specific training such as the Level 2 Safe Use of Pesticides award. Specific Certificates are issued by City & Guilds Land Based Services. You can find out more about horticultural use of pesticides on the Pesticides website.

AHDB horticultural levy

Growers must pay a levy (based on turnover) to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) if they grow certain vegetables, fruit, flowers, bulbs, herbs, hardy and other nursery stock, including plants such as bedding plants grown under glass. You can find out more on the AHDB Horticulture website.

Goods vehicles

You may decide that you need a medium to large van or lorry if you intend to deliver wholesale plants to trade customers. If your business operates goods vehicles with a gross plated weight of more than 3.5 tonnes (or unladen weight more than 1,525 kg for unplated vehicles) then you will need a goods vehicle operator licence in England, Scotland and Wales. You must have an operator licence for each Traffic Area in which you have a base. Licences are issued by the Traffic Commissioner for that area. There are eight Traffic Areas covering England, Wales and Scotland. In Northern Ireland you may need a goods vehicle operator's licence from the Transport Regulation Unit (TRU). More information about goods vehicle operator licensing is available on the Gov.uk website - and the Department for Infrastructure website in Northern Ireland.