Independent on Sunday, p7, 20 November 1994
Mail on Sunday, p29, 20 November 1994
Sunday Express, p21, 21 November 1994
An obscure EU law is halting the sale of English oak seeds, letting continental strains, which often have fewer knots, take over Britain’s countyside.
The directive in question goes back to 1966, and was revised in 1971. Covering the marketing of certain seeds, including oak, and their external characteristics, the former sets up certain quality conditions but is not discriminatory against the UK or any other Member State (Directive 66/404/EEC, OJ L125 of 11/7/66). The latter (Directive 71/161/EEC, Official Journal L87 of 17/4/71). In this vein it also identifies forests from which seeds may be taken within a trading year.
The Directive was made to be very flexible; its purpose being to enable someone who wants to grow straight trees for harvesting know that they are getting the product they want. However neither the EU nor the relevant UK legislation obliges anyone to get their acorns from a registered source. Nobody is stopping them from buying and planting bendy ones from non-registered sources if they so want.
The European Commission is aware that as there is a demand for straight trees for felling, there is sometimes a shortage of suitable acorns in the UK. Consequently there is a derogation allowing the UK to import acorns from third countries, usually countries in central and eastern Europe.