The government has announced that it has rejected the idea of compulsory 5m no-spray zones in fields adjacent to homes because it does not want to burden farmers with more red tape.

DEFRA has been considering for some months whether to introduce tighter spray controls, following a controversial report last year by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution.

The RCEP report concluded that it was “plausible” pesticide exposure could lead to chronic ill-health in bystanders, so no-spray buffer zones should be introduced as a precaution.

It also suggested that farmers should be forced to notify any residents before spraying.

The government announced on Thursday morning (20 July) that it would accept many of RCEP’s recommendations.

But ministers have decided that it would be wrong to place more of a regulatory burden on farmers when there is not yet the scientific evidence to justify the move.

Junior DEFRA minister Jeff Rooker said: “I firmly believe that the concerns of residents are best addressed at the local level through dialogue between residents and farmers to identify and understand the issues and develop mutually agreeable solutions.

“I also believe that this can be achieved most rapidly through a voluntary approach that allows for innovative and flexible solutions.”