Two leading weed control companies have praised the BASIS Amenity Assured standard for raising standards and best practice in the sector, as the industry met for the annual Amenity Forum Conference on 15th October
JSD Rail manages the control of vegetation across the UK's rail network to prevent weeds from affecting the running of the lines. It has been a member of the BASIS Amenity Assured standard for over ten years. Danny Hayward, JSD Rail's Managing Director, believes that the standard has provided a more level playing field across the amenities sector.
He says: "We mainly deal with national contracts for the UK railways which require all the companies that tender to be Amenity Assured. The standard has definitely helped the business, as you know that you're competing against others on a fair and level playing field."
LanGuard, which provides weed control solutions for a number of urban areas across the UK, was one of the companies that originally pushed BASIS for an amenity sector standard. LanGuard's Managing Director Will Kay believes that the introduction of the BASIS Amenity Assured Standard has improved best practice within the sector.
He says: "BASIS has been very good at setting the standard for amenity organisations to follow. Before it was introduced, a lot of non-compliance with legislation was taking place, with organisations using operators that weren't certified or qualified."
Despite significant progress, both Danny and Will are keen to continue raising awareness of the Amenity Assured standard as well as best practice within the sector. Danny believes that operators with a lack of training and knowledge still present problems for the sector.
He explains: "Incorrect or inappropriate application of herbicides increases the risk of important products getting withdrawn from use in the future. Training and certification of operators is vital. We must ensure we follow best practice at all times, to help retain important active ingredients and associated products. Being Amenity Assured demonstrates that we operate to the highest standards, something that gives confidence to those employing us."
Will is keen to encourage more organisations to get behind BASIS Amenity Assured to help raise standards across the sector. He says: "It's important that companies who use weed control contractors realise that if something goes wrong, and the contractor isn't fully qualified, then the employing organisation would be held responsible. Using companies that are BASIS Amenity Assured provides the reassurance that operators are trained, certificated and responsible."
Both JSD Rail and LanGuard are members of the Amenity Forum, a voluntary initiative for the UK amenity sector which promotes best practice, including the safe and environmentally responsible use of pesticides. This year's annual Amenity Forum Conference looked at the challenges and current issues facing the amenity sector, including the impact of legislation such as the Sustainable Use and Water Framework Directives which will provide further cost pressures and technical challenges.
Will Kay believes that the Amenity Forum does well at unifying the industry. He says: "The amenity sector can be very disparate; there is a wide variety of organisation types and activities which is why it's important to have one body that unifies our message. This helps us raise standards as a whole and enables us to better tackle any challenges to the sector."
Danny Hayward is supportive of the Forum's ability to educate and share knowledge across the sector. He says: "There is a lot of accumulated knowledge in the Amenity Forum, so it presents an excellent opportunity to learn from others and share best practice. Even someone with 20 years' experience in the sector, like myself, can learn from other like-minded organisations and individuals."
Stephen Jacob, BASIS' Business Development Manager, is confident that through the BASIS Amenity Assured standard and organisations like the Amenity Forum , the amenity sector is coming together to meet the challenges it faces and improve best practice.
He says: "Through Amenity Assured we will continue to support the sector in its efforts to raise standards and we appreciate the backing of key players such as JSD Rail and LanGuard. Any organisation or contractor interested in becoming BASIS Amenity Assured can find out more information and download an application form on the BASIS website www.basis-reg.org.uk."
BASIS' Amenity Assured standard is endorsed by the Chemicals Regulation Directorate, the Environment Agency, the Amenity Forum and the Crop Protection Association, as well as the Local Government Association where pesticide application is deemed the most appropriate course of action for local authorities.