0 The Official Controls (Plant Protection Products) Regulations 2020 - What you need to know

You have, hopefully, already heard of the new Official Controls (Plant Protection Products) Regulations 2020. They have recently (June 22nd 2022) come into force in Great Britain and Northern Ireland for businesses, organisations and sole traders who use Plant Protection Products (PPPs) as part of their work whether that work is either commercial, not for profit or volunteer run.

If you use PPPs within any of these contexts it is classed as professional use. But what are Plant Protection Products, why are they being officially controlled and how do you register?

1. What is a Plant Protection Product (PPP)?

Plant Protection Products (PPPs) are also known as pesticides, but the more formal definition of PPP helps to better define the specific use, i.e. to protect plants that we want to grow from harm caused by other organisms. This separates out pesticides that are used to protect plants from other types of pesticide, that might be used to protect human or animal health for example. Specifically, PPPs include the following main product groups:

  • Herbicide
  • Insecticide
  • Fungicide
  • Plant growth regulator
  • Molluscicide
  • Vertebrate control

The Official Controls (PPP) Regulations also relate to the use of registered adjuvants as these are intended to be used alongside PPPs in order to enhance their effectiveness.

Used as part of an integrated approach to pest management and plant health, PPPs are one of the key tools available to assist with maintaining and improving our recreational, transport and amenity areas.

If you want to find out about the authorisation status of particular PPPs or registered adjuvants, then the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provide separate databases which can be used by anyone looking for information relating to registered products. For example, you can use the databases to look for products that are authorised on particular crops (e.g., managed amenity turf). The databases can be found on the HSE website.

2. Why are Plant Protection Products being officially controlled?

Pesticides, including PPPs are already amongst the most strictly regulated of all chemicals. Legislative control on the advertisement, sale, supply, storage, and use of pesticides has been in existence in Great Britain since the introduction of the Control of Pesticides Regulations (1986). This statutory control of substances aimed to avoid risks to people and to limit risks to the environment from the use of pesticides. Plant Protection Products are now regulated under the Plant Protection Products Regulations 2011 and the Plant Protection Products (Sustainable Use) Regulations 2012.

The new Official Controls (PPPs) Regulations 2020 is intended to work synergistically alongside the existing legislative framework to:

  • Enable the government to better understand how PPPs are being used by businesses and organisations
  • To assist decision making relating to taking a risk-based approach to monitoring and inspection of activities

The aim is to ensure that PPPs are used sustainably and in accordance with their conditions of use.

3. Who should register?

If your business or organisation uses Plant Protection Products (PPPs) as part of their work then you should have registered this fact with DEFRA (England, Scotland and Wales) or with DAERA (Northern Ireland) by June 22nd 2022. This is because the new regulation, The Official Controls (PPPs) Regulations 2020 has now come into force. If you have not yet registered, then it is important that you do so as soon as possible to ensure that you are operating legally. Alternatively, if your organisation started using PPPs or adjuvants after June 22nd 2022 then you need to register within 3 months of the time you started using them.

Businesses and organisations using Plant Protection Products or adjuvants for professional use could be operating in agriculture, horticulture, amenity, or forestry and within a commercial, non-profit, or volunteer run organisation. Amenity settings where PPPs are used might include:

  • Sports turf facilities and clubs
  • Schools, colleges & universities
  • Parks
  • Public and private property
  • Infrastructure (e.g. roads, railways and waterways)
  • Utilities (e.g. transport and water companies)

It is the business, organisation, or sole trader that should register rather than each individual within the business. The definition extends both to businesses and organisations that apply PPPs and adjuvants themselves as well as to those that have PPPs and adjuvants applied by a third party as part of their work in agriculture, horticulture, amenity, or forestry.

The regulation covers both products that have a professional authorisation and those with an amateur authorisation so you will need to register if your business or organisation uses any type of PPP or registered adjuvant in a professional capacity. The only users of PPPs that don't need to apply are those that are not using them for professional use. An example of this could be using a weedkiller in your own garden.

4. How do you register?

The application process is pretty straightforward. For businesses and organisations based in England, Wales or Scotland that use PPPs, the application form is a spreadsheet which can be obtained from the GOV.UK website. Once you have completed the form you simply need to save it and return it to DEFRA by emailing to: GB-OCR-notification@defra.gov.uk.

For businesses and organisations based in Northern Ireland that use PPPs there is an online registration process hosted on the DAERA website.

Registration requires you to provide some basic details about the use of PPPs and adjuvants, including:

  • Your organisation name and contact details
  • Details about whether you store, apply, or use a third-party organisation to apply PPPs and adjuvants
  • An estimation of the quantity of PPPs and adjuvants used in a typical year
  • Details of the main sector you work in when using or applying PPPs and adjuvants
  • Details of assurance schemes that you are a member of covering PPP use

5. What happens after registration?

DEFRA in England, Wales, and Scotland will use the information provided to give them a starting point for deciding which organisations receive Pesticide Enforcement Officer visits first. They have said that they will do this using a proactive risk-based approach. The purpose of the visits is to check that businesses and organisations using PPPs and registered adjuvants are complying with current PPP laws to ensure that these products are being used safely to minimise risk to people and the environment.

Pesticide Enforcement Officers will usually contact you before visiting but they are authorised to visit without doing so. During a visit from a Pesticide Enforcement Officer they may ask for more information about what you do and how you use, store and dispose of PPPs including asking to see:

  • Relevant certification
  • Details of what records are kept
  • Details of how products are being used

Further information about what to expect during a visit from a Pesticide Enforcement Officer is available on the DEFRA website.

DAERA in Northern Ireland have also stated that they will use the information provided in the registration forms to help them to apply the Official Controls (PPP) Regulations 2020 through the implementation of a pesticide official controls programme. However, the programme is still in development and further details can be expected in due course. Check the DAERA website to find out more.

What this means in a practical sense is that when using PPPs and registered adjuvants you should always adhere to the existing guidance such as in the Code of Practice for Using PPPs. Downloadable copies are available from:

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Contact Kerry Haywood

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