Plant Health Imports Inspectors

Animal and Plant Health Agency

Gatwick & Heathrow
Dependent on location

Paid • Full Time • Permanent 02085380050 Justine Walker

Reference: 1582668

Sectors: food, farming & horticulture

Closing date: Tuesday, 29th May 2018   2 days left

Please apply for this role here quoting job ref 1582668

Salary: Gatwick £23,480 - £26,180, Heathrow £26,350 - £29,360 plus additional Shift Allowance

The work of the Plant Health and Seed Inspectorate (PHSI) is to maintain and promote a high plant health status in England and Wales, thereby contributing to APHA’s overarching purpose. The aims are achieved by excluding, containing or eradicating quarantine plant pests, regulating other plant pests to secure high quality planting material, and facilitating trade through the provision of plant health certification services. The work centres on the implementation and enforcement of plant health and seeds legislation that applies to imports of plant material from third countries. A key objective in carrying out this work is to prevent the introduction and spread of serious plant pest and disease, which threaten the viability of the agriculture and horticulture industries. The programme also has an important environmental element in that it helps to prevent the introduction of non-native organisms harmful to indigenous plants and ecosystems, and avoids widespread chemical treatment, which might be necessary if quarantine pests become established in the UK. 

Key Tasks

  • Examine planting material, fresh produce and seeds to check for the presence of quarantine pest and disease.
  • Locate and inspect imported material using an IT pre-notification portal and systems operated by port authorities and private handling agents. Inspections take place in and around the point of entry including warehouses and refrigerated storage areas.
  • Rely primarily on visual identification of the pest and disease or the symptoms exhibited as a result of their presence. Certain diagnostic tools are also available for some pathogens.
  • Hold goods pending laboratory diagnosis where the presence of quarantine pest or disease is suspected.
  • Sample, pack and despatch suspect material to laboratory diagnosticians for formal identification. A record of all samples is entered onto a web-based IT system. The same system is used to notify inspectors of the final lab results.
  • On confirmation by the laboratory of the presence of an injurious pest or disease, give instruction as to the treatment of the affected goods. This may be to require destruction by deep burial or incineration, re-export or any other appropriate process.
  • Issue Statutory Notices, imposing legal obligations on the responsible party to undertake the treatment and/or movement instructed by the Inspector.
  • In addition to the physical inspection procedures, ensure that documents accompanying imported material are satisfactory and in accord with European phytosanitary measures. As with physical issues, any failings as regards the requisite paperwork can result in refusing entry to the goods. Inspectors are required to assess the validity of Phytosanitary Certificates, any concerns regarding fraud can lead to direct correspondence with the issuing Plant Health Services and other international authorities.
  • Communicate the results of their inspections to importers or their handling agents. This can mean delivering unwanted news and Inspectors must be able to justify the decisions they have made.
  • Liaise closely with various regulatory bodies such as Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, UK Border Agency, Port Health and Animal Health authorities.
  • Any other task required by management.

Person specification


  • Understanding of current Agricultural and or Horticultural issues particularly those relating to plant health, plant passporting, imports and exports.
  • Knowledge of biological principles, in particular the ability to describe plant physiology and basic pest morphology.
  • Attention to detail.
  • Numeracy and IT literacy.
  • As driving is an integral part of the job you must either have a full driving licence or be able to call upon alternative means of transport.
  • Excellent observational skills.
  • Experience of dealing with demanding clients.
  • Experience of managing own workload and balancing competing priorities.
  • Ability to develop strong working relationships.
  • Capability to work on own initiative whilst ensuring colleagues are informed when necessary. Desirable:
  • Ability to identify a number of pest and diseases associated with plants and plant material.
  • Knowledge of the biology and epidemiology of a range of plant pathogens.
  • Ability to instruct 3rd parties of the outcomes of inspections and ensure that the required action is undertaken accordingly.
  • Experience of Horticulture/Fresh Produce Industries.
  • Experience of statutory plant health controls.


Full clean driving licence


Degree or Higher National Diploma or National Diploma in Agriculture, Horticulture Biological science or equivalent qualification, or three years experience in related workplace or industry.


We'll assess you against these competencies during the selection process:

  • Managing a quality service
  • Leading and communicating
  • Making effective decisions
  • Delivering at pace 

Please mention when responding to this ad.