24 October 2001
‘No new plans for spray tax’

By Tom Allen-Stevens

ENVIRONMENT Minister Michael Meacher has denied that a pesticide tax could be back on the cards following a government spending review.

Mr Meacher said the government was committed to a voluntary package of measures first put forward by the Crop Protection Association in March.

This package was set in motion with the launch of a pesticide usage survey of 1350 arable farmers carried out by Central Science Laboratories.

Barry Dent is the chairman of the cross-industry steering group responsible for putting the new measures into place.

“The minister is very keen to see that we get the package in place and stick to our original timetable.

“There is absolutely no indication that the pesticide tax is back on the agenda – nothing has changed since 11 September.

“But the minister wants to see results and the tax remains a fallback if this package does not deliver.”

The package was accepted by the Government, shortly before the last budget, as a viable alternative to a pesticide tax.

Designed to limit the environment effects of pesticides, projects include more training for spray operators and a scheme to protect wildlife on farms.

The survey will involve face-to-face interviews with 350 farmers with a further 1000 surveyed by post.

Growers are being urged to be honest over issues which include standard and maintenance of equipment, training and treatment of sprayer waste.

It is hoped the confidential survey will reveal the baseline standard against which progress can be judged.

Findings are expected to be revealed early next spring.

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