June 15th 2016
We take invasive weeds seriously. We also take the law seriously. While we're glad that there are some provisions in place for the regulation and control of herbicides - as well as who can use them and where - we think that there should be tighter controls on what is fast becoming an industry at risk of being flooded with inexperienced companies and one-man-bands who can't deliver a reliable, quality service.
One aspect of the regulation which is currently being tightened up is the sale of pesticides. There are already recent new regulations governing the sale of all professional pesticides in the PPP (SU) Regulations 2012. These herbicides are the type that Invasive Weed Solutions use - as opposed to the RoundUp and other weedkillers that one can buy in garden centres.
Anyone selling these products is required to have a BASIS Certificate in Crop Protection, and sales must only be made when this certified person is available at the time of sale - partly in order to give advice and information to the buyer. However, the seller is not required to ensure that the buyer has the relevant accreditations (such as PA1, PA2, PA6 etc.) - it is the buyer's legal responsibility to only buy such products when they are either accredited or buying on behalf of an accredited person.
BASIS, who are an independent organisation set up in 1978 to establish and assess standards in the pesticide industry, are currently in the process of drawing up a protocol regarding internet sales - an area notoriously difficult to police and where pesticides are currently available through a small number of sellers, with minimal controls. Disappointingly, some sellers are not overly forthcoming with information that those operating in more conventional channels are proud to display - including their BASIS certifications. Unsurprisingly we found some very negative customer feedback.
Although there certainly are companies operating on the internet who do have the appropriate qualifications, and those listings that we found did generally include in the product description words to the effect that "these chemicals are for professional use only, and the legal responsibility is on the buyer", it would seem that no checks are carried out before despatching these controlled chemicals - and it seems to be possible to buy these products without ever having read this information. To us, it seems that at the very least, it would show good stewardship and responsibility if the seller asked the purchaser whether he or she was certified - and if not, who was the intended user.
The sale of professional pesticides to un-qualified individuals has the potential to cause significant environmental damage, so we hope that the new guidelines from BASIS are effective in raising what we see as disappointing standards put in place by some sellers in a hard-to-regulate area of the market.
Many of the more reputable sellers supplying the agricultural industry and the invasive species management sector take their duty of care seriously enough to go beyond the requirements of the law, and will only sell to companies who they have verified as being appropriately qualified.
However, the regulations are clear, and action is often taken by the authorities - but this is a reactive measure, and can rarely put right any damage caused. We would like to see more people following the lead of the more responsible companies in this sector, and realising that by taking some relatively simple steps, they can do even more help maintain our green and pleasant land.
Further information can be found here.