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Horticulture Research International and Warwick University welcome Ministerial Announcement

Originally published 14 July 2003

Horticulture Research International (HRI) and the University of Warwick welcomed today’s Ministerial statement that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has reached agreement with the University of Warwick about the future of HRI Wellesbourne and Kirton. Lord Whitty of Camberwell, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Farming, Food and Sustainable Energy, confirmed that negotiations to preserve the horticultural research and development (R&D) work of HRI Wellesbourne and HRI Kirton are almost complete, secured through a merger with the University of Warwick. The merger, recommended in the Report by the independent Quinquennial Review (QR) team, is expected to take place on 1 April 2004.

The University of Warwick and HRI have worked closely together since 1997. The range of their collaborative activities has broadened considerably in recent years. To recognise the special relationship that exists between the University and HRI, and to facilitate further co-operation, HRI Wellesbourne became an Affiliate Institute of the University in 2002. The merger will secure a sustainable future for HRI and its R&D focused on the UK horticulture industry, underpinned by its world-class science.

Professor Stuart Palmer, acting Vice-Chancellor of the University of Warwick, said “HRI Wellesbourne and Kirton are a substantial asset for horticultural science and a crucial component of the UK’s industrial and rural life. The University of Warwick is committed to building on the success of HRI Wellesbourne and Kirton so that together we can serve the best interests of our partners in the British horticulture industry, Defra, BBSRC and the UK’s science base.”

HRI’s Chief Executive, Professor Michael Wilson, stated “I am delighted that the Minister and his team have secured the future of UK horticultural research and development through the merger of HRI Wellesbourne and Kirton with the University of Warwick. This is an extremely exciting time for the new HRI, as the merger brings new possibilities for collaborative, multi-disciplinary research and integrated projects, to benefit our valued existing and potential new customers.” Michael Wilson praised all HRI staff for their “patience and resilience throughout the uncertainty of the last few months”.

In line with the final, amended recommendations of the independent QR team, HRI’s site at Efford will be closed. Michael Wilson went on to say: ”It is with great regret that the decision to close Efford had to be made. Although the QR team recommended that Efford should close, Defra and HRI have carefully considered the Review team’s recommendation alongside other options before also arriving at the same conclusion. HRI will ensure that existing contracts at Efford are honoured and will work with Defra to make alternative provision where the industry has an ongoing requirement for the research currently undertaken at Efford. A range of support services will be available to staff at Efford, and to those similarly affected at other sites."

The statement also confirms that negotiations between Defra and the East Malling Trust for Horticultural Research (EMTHR) are continuing. "The EMTHR has recently made proposals for the future of an independent research station at East Malling, which Defra will be discussing with them. I and my management team continue to give every support to the Trust to expedite negotiations and we look forward to hearing soon that East Malling can be established as a financially viable research station."

For further details contact:

Peter Dunn, Press Officer, University of Warwick
Tel: 024 76 523708

Sarah Cook, Communications Manager, HRI Wellesbourne
Tel: 01789 472 027 Email:

Michael Wilson, HRI Chief Executive, HRI Wellesbourne
Tel: 01789 472 041 between 16.00 and 17.00 14 July 2003

Defra News Release

Quinquennial Review of Horticulture Research International

Horticultural Research International Website