You could be forgiven if you took a look at a Government issued regulation, like the Plant Protection Products (Sustainable Use) Regulations 2012, and scratched your head.
You might think you'd need to be a legal expert to fully understand it and immediately put it down. However, this 32 page piece of legislation has implications for persons engaged in the Amenity sector and Headlands' Mark De Ath is here to explain the impact on anybody applying pesticides. He also sets out the new testing requirements for sprayers.
I recently attended the Amenity Forum Conference held at Leicester City Football Club. As an active member of the forum I take a keen interest in new legislation and several important issues came from this conference.
For any that don't know the Amenity Forum, or the Amenity Landscaping Environmental Stewardship Forum to give its full title, it is an independent body bringing together professional organisations with an involvement in the amenity horticulture sector.
To establish and maintain amenity areas to a high standard the sector requires access to pesticides, efficient equipment, as well as trained and qualified staff.
It was set up as a voluntary initiative in agreement with Government to reduce the environmental impact of pesticides.
There is a current exemption in UK law that allows operators who were born before 31st December 1964 to use and apply amenity approved pesticides.
They can do so without the requirement to hold a certificate of competence so long as they confine their actions to their own, or their employer's land like golf courses, sports pitches etc. However, they do still need to be suitably trained and competent even if they don't hold such a certificate.
The aforementioned Plant Protection Products (Sustainable Use) Regulation 2012 allows for this exemption to continue until the 26 November 2015.
After this date everyone applying professional amenity pesticides will need a certificate of competence. This means that for anybody who is aged 49 years or older it would be a good idea to get a certificate now, well before the deadline, so that you can continue to legally use amenity pesticides.
In addition it will also be an offence for anyone to purchase a professional product where the intended user of that purchased product does not have a certificate of competence.
Best practice should always dictate that users, or anyone who causes or permits others to use pesticides, must be competent to apply products safely and have an obligation to ensure that all reasonable precautions are taken to protect human health and the environment.
To minimise the risk of being sold counterfeit products one should always buy pesticides from reputable distributors who will have trained staff available to advise on safe and proper economic use of the product.
There is soon to be a requirement for spray equipment to be tested by an approved scheme. Anything other than knapsack sprayers, and those which have a boom of 3 metres or more, will be affected.
The existing National Sprayer Testing Scheme (NSTS) has been deemed as a suitable inspection scheme in this area. By the 26th November 2016 it will become law, although the more enlightened amenity user may already be voluntarily submitting their sprayers for testing and inspection.
By that date owners of pesticide application equipment must ensure that their applicator is inspected and at regular intervals thereafter.
Following that initial inspection the equipment need not be inspected again for five years between 2016 and 2020 and then a re-inspection interval of not more than 3 years after 2020.
The act does not apply if the applicator is less than 5 years old on 26th November 2016. The purpose of the inspection is to prevent leaks & drips as they are a source of pollution; bystander contamination; operator contamination and of course a waste of chemical.
Worn hoses and no zzles and faulty gauges being the common culprits. The testing should be easily accessible through a network of qualified testers and carried out at your premises or at a convenient location.
It is envisaged that repairs and rectifications would be carried out by the tester and a decal fixed to the machine on the successful outcome.
Whilst most regulations are seen as a burden, I believe in this case it will give peace of mind that the machine is working correctly; be less likely to breakdown and not cause a pollution incident. It will also help to fulfil an organisations Health & Safety obligations.