The United Kingdom has launched a 12-week consultation on how best to introduce the European Union’s new 'pesticides package’, inviting all interested parties to contribute to a process which will help the government draw up ‘implementing legislation’ to bring UK pesticide law into line with the new European legislation.
The package includes two key pieces of legislation, the Directive on the Sustainable use of Pesticides (Directive 2009/128/EC) and the Regulation on Plant Protection Product Authorisations (Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009), which will require changes to UK law, says the government department responsible for the process, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
DEFRA, which has handed responsibility for the consultation to the Chemicals Regulation Directorate, is inviting all interested parties to contribute to the process, and has identified three implementation options for each key area of the legislation. These options, which including an estimate of their potential cost to the government and industry, are:
With regards to the Sustainable Use Directive, DEFRA is seeking views on:
Regarding Article 4: National Action Plans (NAP), DEFRA believes the UK’s existing Pesticides Strategy and supporting action plans, developed by stakeholders groups, contains most of the elements of a NAP.
With regards to IPM implementation, DEFRA’s Option 1 would include measures such as reviewing and altering where necessary current training syllabuses to ensure IPM principles are reflected in key courses for pesticide users and advisers, and monitoring IPM activity and awareness via pesticide usage surveys. Option 2 would involve a mixture of statutory and voluntary measures; DEFRA believes industry-led activities would ensure large numbers of farmers would participate, though this would need to be frequently reviewed.
Option 3 would ‘ensure all users reach a high standard of IPM practice and will result in reduction of pesticide use’. It would include a statutory requirement for all pesticide users to operate to a ‘best practice’ standard of IPM, evidence of compliance through the completion of an annual IPM plan and targets for use reduction. DEFRA estimates that training all existing pesticide users would cost the industry £33m (€35.8m) and the option would cost more than £14m (€15m) per year to run, including an extra £200,000-£500,000 (€217,000-€542,000) on research and development.
The majority of the Plant Protection Products Regulation is directly legally binding, but DEFRA is welcoming input on two provisions:
Article 31 is a particularly sensitive issue in the UK, where campaigner Georgina Downs has been seeking to force the government to protect the public against pesticide spraying. Last summer the UK government won an appeal against a High Court ruling that it had failed in its duty to protect rural residents during pesticide applications. Downs has now pledged to take the issue to the European courts.
Reactions from the UK
Stakeholders in the UK have broadly welcomed the consultation. Anne Buckenham, director of policy at the Crop Protection Association, said: “The UK leads the way in Europe on responsible pesticide use through stewardship programmes such as the Voluntary Initiative. We welcome this consultation as a means of raising standards across the EU to those already largely in place in the UK through a combination of statutory and voluntary measures.”
Paul Chambers, plant health adviser at the NFU, said: “This is a very important consultation which could have significant impacts on the way pesticides are used so we will be fully consulting with our members before giving a detailed response to DEFRA. All along we have said that existing UK and voluntary measures largely meet the requirements of the Directive and that these must be supported rather than new legislation introduced. Voluntary measures such as the Voluntary Initiative do work and have clearly been shown to work and must be supported.”
Nick Mole, policy officer with Pesticide Action Network UK, said: “This is a huge opportunity to change the way pesticide use is regulated in the UK. The government have laid out a number of options and it is now up to the public to make their voices heard on the issue.”
The British Crop Production Council (BCPC) has warned of a ‘crop protection crunch’ with the Directive combining with the Water Framework Directive to have a serious impact on the farming industry. “We must get the message out about the negative impact that all this legislation will have on the production of good quality, nutritional food, at affordable prices,” said Colin Ruscoe, chairman of BCPC. “There is no ‘magic bullet’ to deal with the impact,” he added. “An integrated approach involving alternative chemistry, breeding, biological and cultural methods will be essential.” This, he said, would require five-year multi-pronged (chemical, breeding, biological and cultural) research and development delivering a portfolio of tools to farmers in the short, medium and long-term.
For more information