Statutory powers to control pesticides are contained within Part III of (Food and Environment Protection Act (FEPA). Section 16 of the Act describes the aims of the controls as being to:
The mechanism by which these aims are achieved is set out in regulations made under the Act. The Control of Pesticides Regulations (COPR) 1986 (SI 1986/1510):
The 1986 Regulations were updated by the COPR (Amendment) Regulations 1997 (SI 1997/188).
COPR has largely been overtaken by EU legislation regulating plant protection products (pesticides to protect plants/crops), and only survives to regulate a few commodity substances and products used to generate ethylene (for fruit ripening) in the UK, which fall outside the scope of the EU regime.
Under FEPA, a pesticide is any substance, preparation or organism prepared or used, among other uses, to protect plants or wood or other plant products from harmful organisms; to regulate the growth of plants; to give protection against harmful creatures; or to render such creatures harmless.
The term pesticides therefore has a very broad definition which embraces herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, rodenticides, soil-sterilants, wood preservatives and surface biocides among others. A more complete definition and details of pesticides which fall outside the scope of the legislation is given in Regulation 3 of COPR.
Anyone who advertises, sells, supplies, stores or uses a pesticide is affected by the legislation, including people who use pesticides in their own homes, gardens and allotments.