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The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has launched a petition calling for VAT on all ornamental plants and seeds to be reduced from 17.5 per cent to 5 per cent, bringing them in line with other ‘green’ goods identified by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The UK’s leading gardening charity believes this move will make it more affordable for people to ‘green up’ their gardens, participate in safeguarding their local environment and help to combat the effects of climate change.

Under the current tax laws, all ornamental plants and seeds are classified as standard rated items (17.5%) despite the obvious environmental role they play. Gordon Brown has already set a precedent for reducing VAT on goods credited with ‘green’ status, including wind turbines and solar panels, but plants and seeds are conspicuous by their absence.

Speaking from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, where the campaign is being launched, Inga Grimsey, RHS Director General, said, “Gardens are the way to connect people to the environment but there is little Government incentive to encourage more people to green up what is on their door step. Research shows that people on lower incomes are less likely to use their gardens.

“It is an anomaly that the Government makes ‘green’ provisions for building materials but not for plants. Having a garden is seen as a luxury, rather than fundamental to our lives, and what could be more essential to a sustainable future than investing in plants and trees’”

If the RHS is successful in its petition the plant-buying public will save £175 million a year. Inga Grimsey said, “If every person was given the means to plant up their garden, window box or patio tubs, just imagine what could be achieved. Unless more people are encouraged to grow plants, the Britain that was once known as a nation of gardeners faces the likelihood of a bleak, brown future.”

To put your name to the RHS on-line petition visit

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