After a lengthy consultation period, the Government have now passed the enacting legislation to implement the Sustainable Use Directive (SUD) in our country.
Detailed guidance on the implications has been produced by the Chemicals Regulations Directorate (CRD) and is available on their website as well as others, including the Amenity Forum. A national action plan will shortly be consulted upon seeking to clarify any changes and the final plan will be in place by November.
However, what does it mean for those who sell, store, specify, advise or use pesticides? Well, those who are currently following very best practice, using trained and knowledgeable staff and engaged in proper thorough risk assessment, would seem to have little to fear. There are some significant changes though. One example is in testing equipment. The new guidance makes clear that any sprayer mounted equipment, whatever the size of boom width, now comes under a need for regular testing.
There are also new requirements regarding spraying in specific areas, and certainly in terms of water pollution. In the latter case, all involved must demonstrate that every precaution had been taken before spraying, and that a clear decision process can be documented to show the right chemical choice. These are just examples, but important.
At the core is a real need to both understand and follow best practice, backed up with proper training and a commitment to continuous professional development. Whilst the need for the latter may not be an essential requirement under the law, it is clearly one of the best ways of demonstrating best practice was followed if anything was questioned.
There may be those who feel that they can continue to ignore all such matters - not their problem, as they say. However, they risk serious consequences, not just for themselves but for the amenity sector as a whole. The Amenity Forum has made substantial progress in demonstrating that a voluntary approach can make the difference in driving up standards and best practice. However, this could be threatened if everyone involved does not step up their game and commit to this objective. The Forum has an increasing membership but needs everyone's support in this task.
With Local Authorities under severe budget pressures, it is easy to see savings in amenity area maintenance - mowing less frequently and driving down contract costs for example. However, the longer term consequences need full evaluation. Less amenity maintenance in public areas such as pavements will mean higher overall maintenance costs. The risk of things going wrong needs to be evaluated, and a less professional approach to contract management has clear potential consequences. At the end of the day, those responsible for best practice outcomes hold the ultimate responsibility. So, these are times when following best practice must be high on everyone's thoughts.
On October 9th, the Forum is holding its annual conference where all current topics will be discussed with a range of keynote speakers and time for discussion. It is an important event and, with the help of sponsors, the cost has been kept as low as possible to ensure very best attendance in these challenging times. Also, in the autumn and the winter, the Forum, with support of the CRD, aims to run a number of regional workshops specifically focused on those who specify and award contracts in local authorities, utilities and the like. They will seek to clearly set out the key risks and requirements.
For further information on any of the issues discussed, please contact the Secretary of the Amenity Forum at Alan.Spedding@amenityforum.co.uk