UPDATE NOV 2016 on use of glyphosate in amenity areas in the UK and across the EU

Manda Sansomin Chemicals & Fertilisers

August saw the introduction across the EU of a number of amendments to glyphosate use. For amenity users these focused on the need for Member States to ensure that risks from glyphosate were minimised in those specific areas highlighted in the Sustainable Use Directive, (SUD), (Article 12(a) of Directive 2009/128/EC).

The wording, especially of the legal pre-amble to the amendments, caused concerns as it used words such as 'prohibited'. This could be interpreted by some as suggesting a ban should be imposed in certain amenity areas. However the SUD is implemented locally in each MS so the interpretation can differ.

The UK Position

In the UK, the Plant Protection Products (Sustainable Use) Regulations 2012 do not include the word 'prohibited'. The relevant guidance, also included in the UK's National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides (NAP), is that users should ensure '...that the amount used and the frequency of use are as low as reasonably practicable' when treating Specified Areas. For the UK, the Specified Areas are defined in legislation as including '...areas used by the general public, vulnerable groups, areas in the close vicinity of healthcare facilities as well as conservation areas, areas close to groundwater, sealed surfaces and recently treated areas accessible to agricultural workers.'

CRD has stated that, as the new amendment essentially duplicates the SUD and NAP, they do not propose any change to their current approach. Users should continue to operate in line with the SUD and to follow product label guidance. CRD have also commented that the risks associated with the use of pesticides in amenity areas, such as parks, are specifically considered as part of the authorisation process.

The Position in Europe

Restrictions on glyphosate use in amenity areas have so far only been actioned by Slovakia and Italy. Slovakia has decided to withdraw all non-agricultural uses and only maintain railways, drainage & irrigation channels (aquatic) and forestry, and in Italy glyphosate use on sandy soils is forbidden. Both Spain and Italy will add details from the SUD to glyphosate product labels.

Finland is considering introducing restrictions in public areas but these have not been finalised.

For clarity, before any of these new restrictions appeared, and independent of the glyphosate discussions, several countries already had restrictions in place. Note that these restrictions apply to all pesticides used in amenity situations and not just glyphosate.

Country - Hard surface, amenity use

  • Germany: All Pesticides: Permission needed for hard surface application (permission not possible for garden use); all other uses in municipalities are still allowed.
  • Netherlands: All Pesticides: Legislation to ban hard surface use as from 30 March 2016 and amenity and all other non-agricultural uses as from 1 Nov. 2017 (exception: home and garden use will not be banned, even on hard surfaces). Exceptions apply (e.g. railways, invasive weeds) and amenity uses remain registered.
  • Belgium: All Pesticides: Use restrictions at federal level: Use ban in public areas with some exceptions in place since Jan 2015 in Flanders (legislation voted 10 years ago) and as from 2017 in Wallonia. All uses remain registered.
  • Nordics: All Pesticides: The Government recommends not using pesticides, but there is no law in place and all uses remain registered.
  • France: All Pesticides: Legislation in place to restrict use outside agriculture (except cemeteries, sport and playgrounds) from January 2017.
  • All other EU countries: No restrictions in place.