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Wednesday, 27 September 2023 15:35
There are a variety of terms used to describe the mixtures used to kill weeds: “plant protection product”, “herbicide”, “pesticide” – these words could all refer to the same bottle of Roundup sold over the counter at any one of hundreds or thousands of shops across the UK – or the professional products that INNSA members use to combat invasive species.
Personally, I am not afraid of any of these terms. Having studied chemistry at university and as a qualified pesticides advisor and a health and safety professional, I have a reasonable understanding of what these things are and how they work – although, of course, this is a field which a great many professionals have dedicated lifetimes of work to understanding, developing our collective knowledge and the regulation that underpins safe usage.
People often distinguish between “natural” and “artificial” or between what they regard as “chemicals” and some undefined other category of “things which aren’t chemicals”. To approach this topic objectively, however, it’s important to understand that the term “chemicals” technically describes basically everything in the universe apart from light… it doesn’t just mean bubbling vats of toxic green stuff oozing out of comic book laboratories.
I’m interested in the properties of the substances we use – from our cleaning products to our fuels to the products we apply on invasive species in the field… Herbicides, pesticides… terms like “toxic”, “carcinogen”, “teratogen”, “concentration”, “persistence”, “half-life”… understanding what these mean and the potential effects a particular substance has, how it behaves in the environment, whether it will break down, how quickly and into what… All of these factors determine how we should use these products, what measures we need to take to protect the people who use them and how we protect our environment from the potential harmful effects they could cause.
As I stated above, it’s not only the herbicides that contractors use on sites which have potential harmful impacts – for example, domestic bleach products raise concerns both in terms of manufacture and the by-products generated by their use.
That said, though, for mixtures expressly designed to kill plants, it’s critical that we store, manage and apply these products with the utmost care. Anyone who advertises, sells, supplies, stores or uses pesticides is bound by legislation. The Plant Protection Products (Sustainable Use) Regulations 2012 states “Anyone storing PPPs should follow practices consistent with those detailed in the existing Codes of Practice…”
The gold standard for the management of pesticide stores is the BASIS Store Inspection Scheme (including the BACCS scheme for amenity contractors), which covers an extensive list of standards which a store should meet in order to be safe and well managed. BASIS schemes (including those for agricultural stores certify around 530 stores in the UK – from stand-alone “chem-safes” used to store small amounts of product, small stores to supply single farms, all the way up to vast warehouses used by retailers to store their stock. Unfortunately, amenity stores are somewhat under-represented in the scheme, with those registered tending to be the larger stores of retailers and bigger contractors.
While the list of standards is way too extensive to reproduce here, there are some key underlying principles worth exploring.
While registering your store with BASIS is not a legal requirement, there are a wide variety of legal requirements that a pesticide store must meet – and annual auditing by BASIS ensures that these standards are met. It is also important to note that, because anyone who sells professional herbicides or who is an end user of professional products must register with DEFRA under the Official Controls (Plant Protection Products) Regulations 2020 (the “OCR”), basically any business with a pesticides store should be registered. BASIS works closely with DEFRA, DEARA, HSE and CRD with regard to OCR PPP Regulations.
INNSA supports both the BACCS scheme and the registration requirements and inspections carried out under the OCR (although we are lobbying DEFRA to try to help them to make the most out of the register they have built up), as part of our core aims, which include “Encouraging the highest standards within the industry” and “Providing customers and clients with peace of mind and quality standards assurance”.
Registration with a BASIS stores inspection scheme helps to ensure that you will be compliant with any DEFRA audit and that you will be compliant with the law, which would be particularly crucial in the event of any environmental incident.
It is crucial that the storage of pesticides is managed in a safe way and that all reasonable measures are taken to prevent potential environmental incidents due to pesticides, which is why these standards are core to being an INNSA contractor member.
Tuesday, 04 July 2023 14:08
It is well known that invasive species, particularly including Himalayan balsam, can cause erosion on the banks of watercourses. The shallow root system of the Himalayan balsam plant, which dies and decomposes each year after the growing season, combined with the tendency for Himalayan balsam to form dense monoculture stands, results in riverbanks becoming denuded over winter and prone to being washed away by both rain and floodwaters. Loose soils enter the waterway, potentially carrying the seeds of the Himalayan balsam downstream, where they can come to rest, germinate, and spread the infestation to new areas.
Tuesday, 06 June 2023 15:38
When the going gets tough, it’s going to be tempting to cut a few corners.
Costs are going up, the bills keep coming through the door, the taxman is chasing his share and all your staff want a pay rise…what are you going to do?
Well, why not cheat? We have had reports that increasingly within our industry, some companies will simply not bother to do all the things that they’ve said they will do.
Wednesday, 17 May 2023 11:27
Defra has released a new invasive species strategy for Great Britain, highlighting a vision protect biodiversity, ecosystems, people and the economy and implement a partnership of government, voluntary organisations, NGOs, academia, businesses and the public.
The report highlights the likelihood that climate change will increase the problems caused by invasive species and sets out its aim to minimise the risk of introduction and establishment and reduce the negative impacts of invasive non-native species…..
Thursday, 27 April 2023 09:26
We may have said it before but sometimes we in the INNSA offices wonder whether we would have been better focusing on a career in the legal profession.
Such thoughts have arisen a number of times over the past couple of months as we have watched several judgements come in from the civil courts and the Court of Appeal for cases involving Japanese knotweed. The cases have variously resulted in: significant financial damages awarded for misrepresentation … relatively inconsequential damages for loss of property value … and a case where damages were not awarded as the case was found in favour of the defendant.