DEFRA launches spraying consultation

Farmers in the United Kingdom are being asked for their views on future spraying legislation in a consultation launched by the UK government today (9 February).

The consultation, which last 12 weeks, aims to ensure the UK complies with two key pieces of European legislation – the Sustainable Use Directive and the Plant Protection Products Regulation.

Its outcomes will have important implications for farmers and growers across the UK particularly as it covers obligations for prior notification of spraying near houses and access to pesticide records.

Responsibility for the consultation has been given to the Health and Safety Executive and the devolved administrations. The HSE has a ready-formatted response document on its website.

The findings will be summarised on DEFRA’s website except where respondents have asked for their submissions to be kept confidential.

The government then plans to draft “implementing legislation” for a further round of consultation.

Prior notification has been in the public eye for the past few years and particularly last summer when the government won an appeal against a High Court ruling that it had failed in its duty to protect rural residents during pesticide applications.

The ruling was a blow for anti-pesticide campaigner Georgina Downs who had argued that DEFRA failed to abide by European pesticide rules.

Farmers can access the consultation here.

Responding to the consultation

Responses can be submitted online at or sent by post, fax or email to:-

Caroline Kennedy
EU Pesticides Consultation (Stage One)
Room 214
Chemicals Regulation Directorate
Kings Pool
3 Peasholme Green
Fax: 01904 455763

Consultees in Scotland should also copy their consultation responses to:

Marie Coventry Scottish Executive Rural Directorate Agriculture and Rural Development Division CAP Reform & Crop Policy Branch
Room 259
Pentland House
47 Robb’s Loan
EH14 1TY

Consultees in Wales should also copy their responses to:

David Thomas
Plant Health and Biotechnology Branch
Technical Services Division
Welsh Assembly Government
Cathays Park
CF10 3NQ

Consultees in Northern Ireland should also copy their responses to:

Deborah Currie
Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Northern Ireland
Environmental Policy Branch
Room 656 Dundonald House
Upper Newtownards Road
BT4 3SB Northern Ireland

The consultation covers England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. However, the Scottish Executive and the Northern Ireland Assembly will be producing Statutory Instruments to implement the legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Each country may adopt individual approaches to implementation in some areas, to take account of different circumstances.


The consultation aims to ensure the UK complies with two key pieces of European legislation:

Sustainable Use Directive 2009/128/EC

The overall objective of the Directive is to establish ” a framework to achieve a sustainable use of pesticides by reducing the risks and impacts of pesticide use on human health and the environment and promoting the use of Integrated Pest Management and of alternative approaches or techniques such as non-chemical alternatives to pesticides”. The UK must transpose and implement the Directive by 25 November 2011.

Key features of the Directive include: the establishment of National Action Plans; compulsory testing of application equipment, certification of operators and distributors, and access to certification for advisors; a ban (subject to derogations) on aerial spraying; special measures to protect the aquatic environment, public spaces and conservation areas; minimising the risks to human health and the environment through handling, storage and disposal; and the promotion of low input regimes (including Integrated Pest Management (IPM)).

The consultation invites views on the implementation and transposition of the following provisions:

Article 4: National Action Plans

Article 5: Training and Certification

Article 6: Sales Restrictions and Information Provision

Article 7: Information and Awareness Raising

Article 8: Testing of Pesticides Application Equipment

Article 9: Aerial Spraying

Article 10: Information on Pesticides

Article 11: Protection of Water

Article 12: Reduction of Pesticide Use or Risks in Specific Areas

Article 13: Storage, Handling and Waste

Article 14: Integrated Pest Management

Article 15: Indicators

Plant Protection Products Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009

The Regulation is essentially a revision of Directive 91/414/EEC that currently governs the approvals regime for plant protection products, but with some new elements. The Regulation’s overall objective is to ” lay down rules for the authorisation of plant protection products in commercial form and for their placing on the market, use and control within the Community [and] ensure a high level of protection of both human and animal health and the environment and to improve the functioning of the internal market through the harmonisation of the rules on the placing on the market of plant protection products including active substances, while improving agricultural production.”

The Regulation updates the existing regime and aims to increase the level of protection for people and the environment as well as speeding up decision making and providing clearer rules. The majority of the Regulation is directly binding and is not therefore included in this consultation. There are, however, two discretionary provisions in the Regulation where we have undertaken to consult.

The two provisions are:

Article 31: Authorisations – Notification of Neighbours

Article 67: Recording and Disclosing Information on pesticides

They concern the provision of information in two main categories: advance notification to neighbours who could be exposed to crop spraying activity; and making available records of plant protection products used, on request by the competent authority.

The Regulation provides an opportunity to consider the introduction of measures that would provide greater transparency of pesticides use post-approval. Despite the precautionary nature of the approval system and the high level of protection that it affords people, animals and the environment, people may wish to know about pesticides which they see being used.