Defra says no to new spray rules

The government has rejected calls that would force farmers to notify nearby rural residents before spraying pesticides.

It dismissed the idea in a response to a government consultation on implementing new European pesticides legislation. There would be no statutory requirement for operators to provide advance notice of planned spray operations to people living adjacent to fields.

“We will continue to encourage farmers and spray operators to develop good relationships with their neighbours,” said the response.

Junior DEFRA minister Lord Henley said only minor changes were needed for the UK to meet the requirements of new European pesticides legislation.

The consultation had failed to uncover any compelling evidence to justify further extending existing regulations and voluntary controls, he said.

“We have to protect the public and the environment from harm, and we’ll do so by following sound scientific and other robust evidence,” said Lord Henley.

“By making a small number of changes to our existing approach, we can continue to help feed a growing global population with high-quality food that’s affordable, while minimising the risks of using pesticides.”

The consultation responses were published on Wednesday (15 December). A further consultation will take place next summer to ensure that any new legislation is in place by November 2011.

Draft legislation will include provisions for a national action plan that sets out how the UK will implement EU legislation. There will also be statutory regimes for equipment testing and restricting the sale of products to certified users.

Meanwhile, proposals are also being developed for revising the current fees and charges for pesticide approval testing and monitoring. The government will consult on these proposals in early 2011.

Lord Henley said the government would continue to take a risk-based approach to minimise any impact of pesticides on people or the environment and further action will be taken should the current monitoring programme or other evidence demonstrate the need.

The new legislation forms part of the EU Thematic Strategy on Pesticides, which aims to create a level playing field across Europe by bringing all member states up to comparable high standards.

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