A new Animal and Plant Health Agency will come into operation in the U.K. at the start of October. The combined agency will be better equipped to prevent the spread of animal and plant diseases and to respond to emergencies, the country’s government says.

The combined agency will have responsibility for four functions held by The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) together with those administered by the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA).

Environment Minister Lord de Mauley said: “Bringing together animal and plant health inspection functions in the Animal and Plant Health Agency makes very good sense. It will enable joined-up working on plant and animal diseases and pests, and will increase our resilience and flexibility to respond to emergencies.”

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The responsibilities of country’s Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture could also be absorbed by the new agency. A decision on that is due to be made this year.

AHVLA Chief Executive Chris Hadkiss will be the chief executive of the new combined agency.

“I am really looking forward to building on the excellent reputation of both the Fera Inspectorates and AHVLA. Together, as one agency, we will be working for a healthier environment and economy,” Hadkiss said.