BASIS FOCUS ON AMENITY
By Michele Williams
Throughout 2004 BASIS have been focusing more attention on the Amenity sector of our industry. A strategy to focus on the Amenity sector was put together which included:
- Additional Board representation
- New qualifications and revision of the existing syllabi
- BACCS - the BASIS Advanced Amenity Contractor Certification Scheme
- An Amenity Conference
- A new Technical Group for Amenity interests within BASIS
The Amenity sector is a key target for everyone; we all need to recognise our responsibilities to the industry, for good stewardship of those products that remain, to ensure they are used wisely and safely.
We have statutory obligations as an industry sector; we all know there are many individuals and companies operating out there outside the law.
The obligations placed on individuals and companies applies equally well to the amenity industry as it does to agriculture.
We have a responsibility to the Voluntary Initiative (VI); we must also be aware that we need to do our bit towards the VI to use pesticides responsibly, to ensure staff are trained and are continually updating the learning, to ensure what we do is friendly towards the environment.
Currently there are some members representing Amenity on the BASIS Board who have only partial knowledge of the amenity industry. We do have amenity representation on the Education and Training Committee and the Professional Matters Committee but we feel it is now appropriate to give amenity a higher profile. We hope that a senior member of the 'Amenity Forum' will accept our invitation to join the BASIS Board and represent the Amenity Industry's views.
We have decided to take a new approach towards amenity qualifications and have instigated extensive updating and changes to the existing syllabi. We have also started the process of putting all BASIS qualifications into the National Qualifications Framework.
The Amenity Pest Management (APM) certificate is targeted at Managers and key operatives involved in decisions regarding choice, selection and use of amenity pesticides. The syllabus has been updated to include more environmental content and is ideally suited to Local Authority client officers, specifiers and key contractors operatives who need to understand which chemicals should and can be used in a given situation. They also need to know what to do if the weather conditions mean delays in spraying to a recommendation. It is not a licence to give advice; that is still for the BASIS qualified person with the FSTS certificate.
FSTS Amenity Horticulture is currently being updated and changed to make it a modular course in line with current thinking. There will be a compulsory module including storage, transport and legislation. There will also be 4 optional modules comprising:
- Hard Surfaces
- Sports Turf
- Glasshouse/Pot plants/Shrubs/Borders
Candidates will be able to choose 2 out of those 4 in addition to the compulsory module. This will make the qualification more focused on the candidates chosen subject and there will also be much more environmental content, fulfilling the VI objectives.
BETA Amenity. Bio-diversity and environmental training for advisers is a new qualification for the Amenity sector, it has been stimulated by the VI as part of Project 19. A specific BETA Amenity paper is presently being written which will incorporate environmental issues and bio-diversity.
The BASIS Professional Register is recognised as the way forward for all advisers and the membership total now exceeds 3500. Following discussions regarding the Amenity category of membership the pointing for this area has been revised making it easier for members to maintain learning and their register membership; there is also a new application section for CPD points. BASIS now has an agreement with NPTC so that practitioners on the BASIS Professional Register can qualify for NRoSO membership as long as they attain their BASIS points for the year.
BACCS. We must not forget the statutory responsibilities for contractors including those in the BACCS scheme. We are able to check during the BACCS audits that these companies comply - that they have qualified advisory staff, a qualified storekeeper where they have storage facilities, an annual store assessment, and that all their contracting staff have the relevant NPTC qualifications for spraying.
The BACCS committee have recommended a number of changes to our fee structure for BACCS and companies will in future be charged according to the size and type of contract they are capable of managing. The bigger contractors will pay more and the extra funding will pay for extra on-site visits to check more thoroughly the suitability of contractors to do the job. Local authority clients can have even more confidence in the abilities of BACCS contractors to execute their contract to the specification given.
We need help to publicise the scheme more widely, we need to police the scheme more effectively - and hence the need for further on-site visits. We need to promote the scheme and we can all help with that, spreading the word. We have started to spread the word, with 'Landscape & Amenity Product Update' which has a circulation of over 20,000 copies every 2 months; 15,000 of which go to Local Authority contacts.We are also planning to publish a shortened version of the BACCS minutes. We are hoping to generate our own press articles, but topical stories with a suitable amenity theme which we can use would be much appreciated to keep our activity in the public eye.
The new Code of Practice is an excellent opportunity for us to raise our profile and publicity for it can help us to ensure that the whole of our industry recognises that it has a responsibility to comply with a number of statutory rules and regulations. Some will be in the new code - we can all help make sure they know that.
The new BASIS website will be operational shortly though not all the sections will be completed by then. There will be a dedicated Amenity Section and events can be published on the website such as our Amenity Conference. The target audience for our conference are local authority client officers and contractors. Subject matter will be problem weeds such as Giant Hogweed, Japanese Knotweed and Ragwort, and their potential effects. This will give BASIS another opportunity to spread the word and publicise our commitment to the amenity industry.
We are planning a small amenity technical group which will report to the education and training committee, and ultimately the Board. It will have a number of key tasks, including updating exam syllabi to keep up with current trends and technical changes in the industry and it will report any relevant technical issues to enable us to plan ahead in the future and include new initiatives in our future thinking. It will also be involved with drafting of exam questions for new amenity exam papers and making recommendations for future amenity initiatives.
BASIS are keen and enthusiastic to develop new initiatives for the amenity sector of our industry but we do need your support.
For further information please contact BASIS on Tel: 01335 340855 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org