If you haven't taken seriously the amendments to the EU Pesticide Directive to totally ban or further restrict the use of pesticides in public places, you are not alone. There has been a rash of publicity recently, but not enough people are paying attention to the proposed threat.
The prospect of a pesticide ban in public areas still looms and will be voted on in the European Parliament this month. Unless the amenity industry address's all the legal obligations relating to pesticide application the ban could become reality, if not this time, in the not too distant future. As a minimum expect to see more restrictions on future pesticide use.
The industry only has itself to blame, pesticide legislation has been in place for many years, but due to poor policing, old habits and under financing, many have chosen to ignore the need for carefully monitored use, thus we find ourselves in the position we are today, with a possible withdrawal leading to catastrophic results in our ability to deliver weed free pavements and quality playing surfaces free of weeds, pests and disease.
So what are the issues and the evidence?
Issues:- Misuse of pesticides by far too many, ignorant of, or just ignoring the legislation, and unaware the contamination the smallest quantity of active ingredient can actually cause.
Pesticide application lost amongst grounds maintenance and landscape contracts - never properly financed and undertaken by non specialist personnel.
Lack of pesticide expertise amongst local authorities (especially highways departments) has resulted in badly written and, in some cases, illegal specifications for contracts.
Poorly managed contracts and the focus on cost saving has led to increased use of "cowboy" sub-contractors who are ignorant of their legal obligations to train staff and comply with the Statutory Code.
Evidence:- The amenity sector accounts for only 4% of UK pesticides use. Environment Agency data shows that the sector is responsible for at least 15% of all pesticide exceedences of 0.1ppb in surface water due to poor practice.
Imagine life without amenity pesticides……………………………..
What are amenity pesticides?
Pesticides are used in the amenity sector, which includes: pavements, roads, railways, sports grounds and golf courses. Local Authorities are responsible for pesticide use to control weeds on streets and pavements. National bodies such as the Highways Agency and Network Rail use pesticides on motorways and railways to protect them from weed damage, which can threaten both public safety and result in costly and disruptive repairs. Retail parks and industrial sites need to control weed growth to reduce fire risk and create a pleasant and attractive environment. Sports grounds and golf courses are subject to intense recreational use and need careful maintenance to ensure high quality and safe playing surfaces. In all these situations there is a clear economic benefit to using pesticides with a 10-100fold saving being made over alternative treatments.
How are amenity pesticides regulated?
Pesticides used in the amenity sector are regulated in exactly the same way as agricultural pesticides, with the Pesticides Safety Directorate recommending approval of specialist products to ministers. Product labels carry specific recommendations for use in particular situations e.g. Golf courses or hard surfaces and advice on application through various application equipment.
Pesticides go through a very rigorous approvals process and that these products are valued tools in the maintenance of our green spaces. There is an implication throughout that use of these products involves a risk to the public and environment which, due to national legislation on the approvals process, does not exist (when used correctly). In fact these products are rigorously tested prior to release to ensure that the scientific evidence exists to ensure the safety of the user and public.
Who applies amenity pesticides?
With the exception of private sports clubs, where professional grounds men and green keepers are normally used, contractors apply the majority of pesticides in the sector. However all users of amenity pesticides, large or small, are required to be professionally trained and competent with the requirements of the recently published statutory "Code of Practice for using plant protection products."
At last a fully endorsed accreditation scheme for amenity contractors………………..
In all walks of life there is variable quality of performance. To remove that variation, between different operators, and to ensure a consistent standard of performance, reliability of results, value for money and minimisation of risk, it is important to specify that work is carried out by an AMENITY ASSURED CONTRACTOR.
AMENITY ASSURED CONTRACTORS are registered with and verified by:-
The AMENITY ASSURED standards are also endorsed by:-
· The Pesticide Safety Directorate
· The Environment Agency
· The Amenity Forum
· The Crop Protection Association
· The Local Government Association (where pesticide use has been considered along with alternative methods).
Newly launched the Amenity Assured accreditation scheme for contractors is one way of ensuring legislation will be adopted and monitored.
Always remember - The appointment of contractors does not absolve the client of ultimate responsibility but appointing an Amenity Assured Contractor can give peace of mind.
Richard Minton Associates
Richard Minton Associates has been established to provide a professional consultancy for all weed control and related activities and to guide clients through the ever increasing legislation both H&S and environmental attached to the use of pesticides. With a wealth of industry knowledge they can help produce bespoke pesticide use packages that will both efficiently and safely deliver, quality results and ensure value for money, while always remaining conscious of the environmental impact.
Tel/Fax 01386 861165
Mobile 07807 008678