0 Amenity Forum calls for greater support for R&D

Amenity Forum

The Government has recently released copy of its National Action Plan which seeks to describe how changes brought about implementation of the Sustainable Use Directive will apply in the UK. As part of that, there is reference for the need for greater emphasis on alternative approaches to weed, pest and disease control working alongside or in place of pesticide applications. To quote the plan, it says ''Whilst virtually all users aspire to and adopt some elements of an integrated approach to managing pests, weeds and diseases there is scope, and a need in view of the declining number of pesticide products and pesticide resistance, to develop a greater range of viable techniques and ensure these are adopted by users''

The Amenity Forum has joined calls from the agricultural sector for greater resource and attention to research and development aimed at providing workable and cost effective alternative techniques. In a recent letter to Government, they state '' If we are to successfully promote, apply and support integrated methods of control, it is vital to base this on sound research and development as well as supporting knowledge exchange and transfer to all involved''

They go on to say that '' The amenity sector is far larger than often recognised and covers a wide range of activity including weed, pest and disease control on our streets and pavements, rail tracks, amenity woodlands, motorways and service stations, golf courses and sports grounds to name but a few. These areas are much more open to the public; at the front line. We are well aware of the acute pressures on spending within government and the reasons for this. However, we do feel strongly that the case for greater priority to investment in R & D and knowledge exchange is a real one and of vital importance, especially to the amenity sector.''

John Moverley, Independent Chairman of the Amenity Forum, said ''The Amenity Forum is a voluntary initiative funded by the sector and organisations within it and is seeking to continue to drive up standards and best practice. We would welcome closer involvement in determining research priorities and would seem to be the ideal body to help disseminate such results. The National Action Plan identifies amenity as a very important area of activity. There is a willingness amongst our members to utilise integrated techniques but this needs to be effective in terms of achieving the required levels of control and economically. More research is needed in this area and the Forum stands ready to assist in any way ''

The Amenity Forum has welcomed the publication of the National Action Plan as a further stage in helping drive up standards and best practice. However it feels that it still falls short in providing the necessary drivers for change for those operators in our sector who are not engaged in this agenda as well as importantly those involved in specifying contracts and commissioning work. Whilst many operate at the highest levels, there are still too many outside this who need to become so. It is also vital that those in local authorities and other areas seek out contractors committed to an amenity assured approach, another key priority set out in the National Action Plan..

John Moverley said ''whilst we welcome the references to the Amenity Forum in the National Action Plan and clear recognition of the progress being made, there is still much to be done. We recognise that the Plan is very much meeting a requirement to demonstrate to the other European nation members how we are implementing the SUD in the UK. We would have liked it to be more than that. As a Forum we now intend to seek to work with our members and Government agencies to further translate this into a more detailed action plan for the amenity sector. We also would welcome issue of revised codes of practice in the light of these changes as soon as is possible''
The Amenity Forum initiated a year long special campaign late last year and this has gained real momentum and impact. It comprises a range of events being held across the country as well as participation in the same at the invite of its members and related organisations. The Forum seeks to build further on this and urges support from all involved in making it as effective as possible.
For further information on this release or any other matters, please contact the Forum Secretary, Alan.Spedding@amenityforum.co.uk
Notes to Editors

The Action Plan is at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/quality/chemicals/pesticides/

The Amenity Forum is the independent body bringing together professional organisations with an involvement in the amenity horticulture sector. This is a very diverse industry responsible for the landscape management of urban areas, highways and rail network, sports grounds, parks, industrial and utility sites. To establish and maintain these areas to a high standard, the sector requires access to pesticides, efficient equipment and trained and qualified staff. The organisation was formed in October 2003 as a key action to support the Voluntary Initiative, an industry led project agreed with Government to reduce the environmental impact of pesticides.

The membership comprises of organisations from across this diverse industry, covering manufacturers, suppliers, trade associations, local authorities, major users, landscape, sport and leisure. Equally important are those members who represent training and qualification standards. The key Government agencies have an important observer role. The objectives of the Amenity Forum are:

  • To be the collective body representing the amenity industry, in relation to pesticide use
  • To lead, coordinate and encourage achievement of "Best Practice" objectives in amenity pesticide use
  • To coordinate and encourage the establishment of sustainable qualifications, training and CPD activity, specifically for the amenity sector
  • To organise activities within the Amenity Forum membership and linked organisations, such that Amenity Forum objectives are developed in a coordinated way

For further information on this press release or the work of the Forum, please contact the Secretary, Alan Spedding, or the Chairman, Professor John Moverley OBE. Similarly if you wish to register for future press releases, please let us know.

postmaster@amenityforum.co.uk or email John.Moverley@amenityforum.co.uk or Alan.spedding@amenityforum.co.uk

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