The Environmental Audit Committee has launched a new inquiry to consider the impact and threat to biosecurity from invasive species. The UK is witnessing a rise in the introduction of non-native species with damaging effects from invasive species estimated to cost almost £2 billion a year.

The inquiry will focus on the impact and management of non-native species that have a detrimental effect on native biodiversity and ecosystems, as well as public health, with threats posed by predatory behaviour, competition or by transmitting disease. It will also consider the threat of invasive species to the UK’s overseas territories.

Environmental Audit Committee Chair Mary Creagh MP said “Climate change means that invasive species are migrating to the UK where we’re witnessing a dramatic rise in range and numbers. These are plants, fish and insects that pose a threat to our indigenous wildlife and human health, and are already costing our economy almost £2 billion a year.

“We want to identify the scale of the problem and assess how well prepared we are to cope with it, particularly with the possibility of a new era of regulation outside the EU.

“We hope our inquiry will send out an alert to those most likely to come into contact with invasive species whether in farming, canoeing, fishing, walking, or even in their back garden. Identifying and recording sightings or clearing invasive species is important to reduce the impact on our native environment.”

Increasing global temperatures from climate change are allowing invasive species to thrive in non-native environments and are likely to intensify the threat they pose through increasing their range.

Other factors behind the rise in non-native species include increased globalisation in trade and travel, for example in agriculture, horticulture, the pet trade and in the ballast water of ships.

Farming and horticultural sectors but also transport, construction, recreation, aquaculture and utilities are among areas affected by invasive species that arrive through human activity, either deliberate or accidental.

Terms of Reference:

The Committee is inviting written evidence to be submitted through this link.

These should be submitted by 5pm on Tuesday 30 April in no more than 3,000 words. Submissions should focus on:

  • How well is the UK and its overseas territories managing the impact of invasive species and controlling the risks of further invasion?
  • Of those that are already in the UK, which invasive species are posing the greatest harm to:

a. human health;

b. animal health;

c. plant health and biodiversity.

  • What are the risks of invasive non-native species migrating to the UK from future climate change?
  • What actions should the UK take to mitigate the risk, or adapt to, climate migrations of invasive species?
  • Where should the four nations prioritise resources to tackle invasive species?
  • How can the risk of trade and future trading relationships bringing non-native invasive species to the UK be mitigated?
  • How effective have the European Union’s Invasive Alien Species Regulations been at addressing and tackling invasive species?
  • In the event of EU exit, how should the UK establish its replacement for the European Commission’s scientific forum to update the species list of concern?
  • How should the UK work with the European Commission and others internationally to reduce the risk of invasive species?

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