30 April 1998
Cumbrian farms face sheep-dip blitz

By FWi staff

A TWO-MONTH inspection blitz on farms dipping sheep in the Cumbria area will start next month, the Environment Agency announced today.

Inspectors will check on the use and disposal of new sheep-dip chemicals known as synthetic pyrethroids (SPs), as well as give farmers pollution prevention advice.

The SP sheep dips are up to 100 times more deadly to river life than the older organophosphate (OP) dips. A medium-sized Cumbrian sheep farm uses enough SP dip in a year to potentially pollute the whole of Loweswater, the agency warned.

In the last two years, 200km of Cumbria rivers have been affected by sheep-dip chemicals, which wipe out river-born insects for hundreds of metres downstream, depriving fish and other wildlife of a vital food source.

The two-month round of inspections begins around Carlisle and Wigton area before moving to Cockermouth, Keswick, Kendal and the rest of Cumbria.

Joanne Forster, Environment Agency protection officer, said it was important for farmers to understand that small amounts of SP dips are lethal to insects which play a key role in the eco-systems of rivers.

“It is important that we have the co-operation of sheep farmers, farming unions, suppliers and other relevant groups to improve sheep dipping practices,” she said.