Apple and stonefruit industry players in a legal stoush with the Ministry for Primary Industries over a plants destruction order say they are standing by for a fresh approach from the ministry following an extension of High Court interim orders.
The group, which represents orchardists and importers who have been ordered to destroy or contain 48,000 apple and stonefruit trees under the Biosecurity Act, hopes MPI will issue revised directives and a detailed testing plan which open the way for the plant materials to be released from containment.
MPI's initial directive was ruled unlawful by the High Court, which recommended discussions between the parties to find an alternative approach.
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Fruit sector and MPI head back to court over destruction order
MPI last week went back to court for an extension of the interim orders, which now have a deadline of 5pm tomorrow.
A spokesperson said the group was hopeful MPI "will be reasonable and take a commonsense approach to the management of the plant materials to avoid any need to return to the High Court for further judgment".
MPI has been approached for comment.
The ongoing wrangle follows the fruit group last month seeking a High Court judicial review of MPI's directive to 32 orchardists, nurseries and importers in Hawke's Bay, Waikato, Nelson and Central Otago to destroy and/or contain 48,000 apple and stonefruit plants.
The plants had been imported from the Clean Plant Center Northwest, a quarantine facility located at Washington State University and the main source of plant materials for New Zealand stonefruit orchards.
Following the High Court hearing, MPI reiterated its concern at the biosecurity risk associated with the plant material.
The fruit group claimed the original directive would generate industry losses of up to $500 million and set industry innovation back by 15 years.
New Zealand apple exports returned about $700 million last year and summerfruit exports earned about $77m.