At a packed meeting of the Amenity Forum group at Doncaster's Keepmoat Stadium, attended by numerous representatives of the pesticide trade plus a good attendance of local authority and other interested parties on 6th October, the looming EU Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive (2009/128/EC) was outlined.
The day saw a number of guest speakers explain the possible changes that will influence the way we are governed in the promotion, use and storage of pesticides.
Fist up was Adrian Dixon, head of the Chemical Regulation Directorate, Health and Safety Executive who was able to indicate how the new legislation is taking shape following past and ongoing consultations with the public, the industry and other interested parties.
No single piece of legislation will have a more far-reaching impact on all aspects of the use of pesticides, especially in the realms of public spaces, than this and it is due to come into law in November 2011, just over 12 months from now!
Richard emphasised the aims and goals of the strategy in simplified terms
• Minimise risk to Health and the Environment
• Improve controls on use and distribution
• Reduce levels of harmful pesticides through substituting with safer (including non chemical alternatives.
• By Banning or severely limiting the most hazardous and risky pesticides (regulation 1107/2009
• Ensuring adoption of best practice for authorised products (Sustainable Use Directive / machinery) 2009 /127
• Improve Monitoring
The process is well under way with key dates set for the above criteria to be endorsed and ratified.
Sustainable use directive implementation
• Public consultation February to May 2010
• Discuss findings with new Government Ministers, June 2010 onwards
• Publish consultation response, October 2010
• 2nd stage consultation anticipated February to May 2011
• Make legislation, establish agreements with industry organisations, October 2010 - June 2011
• New laws and procedures in place for November 2011
Main features of the Directive
• Use of national action plans
• Training and certification: users, distributors and advisers
• Improved public awareness and information
• Sprayer testing
• Prohibition on aerial spraying
• Measures to protect water, public spaces, special conservation areas
• Measures on handling, storage and disposal
• Promotion of low-input systems and IPM
• Development of indicators
Most if not all of these changes will have to be completed by November 2011 with some others being completed by 2016.
The second speaker was Paul Singleton from BASIS who outlined the changes required in ensuring people who use pesticides are correctly trained and certificated, in fact the UK does have one of the most robust systems of training currently in place , however there will be a number of changes required to meet the new legislations.
Grandfather rights will be lost, so everybody who uses and applies pesticides will have to be certificated and undertake ongoing training needs Continual Professional Development (CPD).
A number of CPD points will have to be earned each year, spray operators, advisors and store keepers will have to keep themselves up to speed and earn between 20-30 CPD points per year.
Various categories/areas to earn points
Crop Protection/weed control
Health & Safety
Jack Ward CEO for City & Guilds Land Based Services then spoke about the role of NASOR National Amenity Sprayer Operators Register, who like BASIS will be rolling out training provision for their members to ensure they can also achieve the required amount of CPD points required to remain certified .
We then heard from Rob Simpson MD for BASIS who spoke about the role of BASIS who Independently set Standards for Training, Certification, Examine and Award Certificates, Monitor & Inspect Pesticide Stores and ensure standards are met.
It was left to Geoff Wilson to finish the days programme with a demonstration on the Testing and calibration of spraying equipment. The new Sustainable Use Directive will certainly ensure that all spraying equipment used to apply pesticides is strictly monitored and goes through thorough regular testing procedures to ensure the equipment is fit for purpose. This will take place through the National Spraying Testing Scheme (NSTS).
Using a specially adapted Utility Vehicle , set up for spraying , he showed delegates some of the testing practices required to meet NSTS requirements. This included checking the pressure of nozzles and hoses, had clean water receptacles and effective control devices.
What will it mean in practical terms? The already limited use of pesticides will be even further restricted, with products that represent any threat to the environment or health being withdrawn or severely limited in use. It is likely that we will be left with only one or two of the very safest products for use in total weed control on hard surfaces. It is likely that the use of these will be restricted to just one or two applications a year and it is likely that current application rates of these products will be greatly reduced, possibly to as little as one or two litres per hectare.
Spot spraying of weeds will replace blanket applications of herbicide. Other methods of weed control such as sweeping, weed wiping, weed burners, etc. must be used in sensitive areas such as schools, hospitals or water catchment areas. The use of spraying equipment will very likely be restricted as is already the case in Holland and Germany to new technology that can apply extremely low doses of herbicide, targeted at weeds only and which eliminate the risk of any spray drift, as occurs with conventional hydraulic spraying equipment. The Mankar Ultra Low Volume spraying system from Germany, the Weed-it spot spraying system with weed sensors, the Roto-Fix Weed Wiper system, which applies zero herbicide to the ground, only to emergent weed foliage, are likely to become specified, especially on hard surfaces in public areas. Greater weed presence may become accepted before treatment is allowed.
Other far-reaching changes will affect pesticide sales and advisory staff, who must keep up a programme of continuous professional education monitored by BASIS in order to continue to practice. This same concept will, for the first time, be extended to the many thousands of sprayer operators employed by councils, contractors and others, who will lose their right to apply pesticides if they do not keep up an ongoing training programme. Grandfather rights to operate will end.
Spraying equipment will be subjected to a regular independent inspection like an MoT test, initially once every 5 years but probably falling to every 3 years. Operators, will be expected to regularly check sprayer calibration and condition to endure that regulated doses of pesticide are not exceeded.
What is clear from all this is that the traditional practices of high volume blanket spraying of large urban areas using traditional spraying equipment will come to an end. Are we all ready for the sea change that is about to hit us next year? I rather doubt it!