DEFRA has published details of how it aims to strengthen the UK's already stringent rules on the sale, storage and use of pesticides.
The UK National Action Plan for the sustainable use of pesticides ensures the UK complies with a new EU directive that aims to harmonise pesticide rules across Europe.
The plan says a number of the measures already in place in the UK go beyond those required by the EU and it applauds the high standards, well maintained equipment, training and voluntary schemes adopted within agriculture. It says amenity and amateur pesticide users are not operating to the same high standards as farmers.
But, while extensive extra regulation is not needed, it does highlight some areas for improvement.
- All professional users to hold an agreed certificate by 26 November 2015 - applies to "grandfather rights holders"
- All distributors to have sufficient staff holding accredited training certificates by 2015
- All pesticide application equipment except handheld and knapsack applicators subject to inspection regime by 26 November 2016
- New equipment must be inspected within five years of purchase
- NAP progress assessed over five years
Strengthening the training of users, distributors and advisers is part of this and there will be new certification requirements from November 2015 (see above). Users who historically relied on an age-based exemption under previous UK law, known as "grandfather rights holders", will need to hold a training certificate in future.
Another issue is residues from pesticides found in slug pellets - such as metaldehyde - applied to autumn-sown cereals and oilseed rape being detected in some watercourses. DEFRA says river basin management plans should be developed to set out measures that address specific water quality issues.
In addition, the plan calls for more integrated techniques to managing pests, weeds and diseases, such as through crop management or "natural" pesticides. EU member states must set out how IPM principles will be adopted by all professional pesticide users by 1 January 2014 and DEFRA will publish more in coming months.
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