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Guidance for those affected by the Plant Protection Products (Sustainable Use) Regulations 2012

New legislation on the use of pesticides

The Plant Protection Products (Sustainable Use) Regulations 2012 (S.I.2012/1657), (“the Regulations”) came into force on 18 July 2012 and transpose the Sustainable Use Directive, 2009/128/EC, (“the Directive”) in relation to the use of pesticides that are plant protection products (referred to in this guidance as pesticides).

The use of pesticides has been regulated in the UK for many years. Many of the measures envisaged in the Directive already feature in existing domestic legislation and the Regulations include obligations that are very similar to obligations under the existing regime. Guidance on the safe use and storage of plant protection products already exists in two separate Codes of Practice.

The Codes of Practice for England and Wales are;

New Codes of Practice, pursuant to regulation 18 of the Regulations, may be issued in due course. In the meantime, although some of the underlying legislative framework has changed, the general guidance contained in these Codes remains appropriate. If there is any inconsistency between those Codes and this guidance, the advice in this guidance takes precedence.

This new guidance, which was drawn up in liaison with a number of key affected industry stakeholders, outlines the immediate and forthcoming changes to existing requirements that were introduced as a result of the Directive and how to comply with the law.

Following this guidance is not obligatory but if the guidance is followed it will help in meeting the legal obligations referred to in it. The guidance cannot, however, cover every situation.

In this guidance plant protection products are referred to as ‘pesticides’.

Who is affected by the changes?

The following are the main activities where responsibilities have changed:

This Guidance covers:

and includes:

The Guidance will be updated from time to time to take account of new arrangements that are put in place.

Queries

Any queries concerning this guidance should be addressed to our General Enquiries team: Contact Details Page

SECTION 1.0 OBLIGATIONS ON THOSE WHO USE AND STORE PESTICIDES

NEW OBLIGATIONS TAKING IMMEDIATE EFFECT AND EXISTING OBLIGATIONS THAT WILL CONTINUE IN THE FUTURE

1.1 Continued requirement for users of products authorised for professional use to have a certificate (of competence)

Users of professional products will continue to be required to hold a certificate showing they have sufficient knowledge of the subjects listed in Annex I of the Directive (in the UK these certificates are currently called a certificate of competence). Existing certificates of competence will remain valid under the new legislation. Anyone who already has one of these will not need to do anything new.

A list of designated awarding bodies and recognised certificates (pdf, 3 pages) is available which includes any certificate relating to vertebrate control or food storage.

Withdrawal of certificates

The legislation provides that certificates can be withdrawn if the holder is found guilty of an offence under the Regulations. An operator whose certificate had been withdrawn would need to undergo further training and an assessment before obtaining a new certificate enabling him or her to use professional products again.

In circumstances where an individual successfully appeals a conviction, their certificate would no longer be withdrawn.

Certificates of training in vertebrate control and food storage

Only those certificates for vertebrate control included in the published list of specified certificates (pdf, 3 pages) will be valid after 26 November 2015.

The grandfather rights exemption

Under the previous UK legislation governing pesticide use, only those born before 31 December 1964 who used an agricultural product on their own or their employer’s land were exempt from the requirement to hold a certificate of competence.

The Regulations provide for the continuation of that exemption until 26 November 2015, when everyone who purchases a professional product must ensure that the intended end user holds a certificate.

After 26 November 2015 everyone who uses a professional product, including those who previously relied on “grandfather rights”, must hold a specified certificate.

What is a specified certificate?

We have published a list of specified certificates (pdf, 3 pages) which includes certificates of competence issued before 26 November 2013, any other certificates issued before 26 November 2013 which we recognise as valid and all accredited certificates issued after 26 November 2013.

Certification of those with “grandfather rights”

Those who have relied on "grandfather rights" in the past will need to obtain a specified certificate. Specific training/certification arrangements have been made for the conversion of these rights. The certificates issued under these arrangements are included in the published list of specified certificates (pdf, 3 pages).

1.2 A continued requirement for anyone who uses a pesticide to take “reasonable precautions” to protect human health or the environment

When using a product authorised for professional use it would help a user to meet the requirement to take “reasonable precautions” if he or she: identified the most appropriate method of control; chose the product/method of control that minimised risks and the amount of pesticide applied whilst achieving an appropriate degree of control; and if he or she identified and mitigated any risks following practices that are consistent with those detailed in the Codes of Practice, and this guidance.

In the case of non-professional products following instructions on use and disposal of the product in accordance with instructions on the product label would help a user comply with the requirement to take “reasonable precautions”.

1.3 A continued restriction on mixing two or more anticholinesterase products

Users may only mix two or more anticholinesterase products where this is expressly permitted by the conditions of authorisation and product label; and may mix two or more authorised products only where all of the conditions of authorisation and product label can be complied with. This means that users can apply any convenience tank mix so long as the authorisation does not preclude mixing with other products or specific products.

1.4 A continued obligation to confine pesticide application to the target area

Users will continue to be subject to a requirement to confine pesticide applications to the land, crop, structure or other material intended to be treated and this issue is addressed in detail in section 4.7 of the Code of Practice for using plant protection products. This requirement will enable enforcement action to be taken against users, for example, who directly overspray a watercourse or spray in inappropriate weather conditions causing a risk of adverse effects on people or the environment adjacent to the treated area

1.5 Continued requirements in relation to storage, handling and disposal

There is a continued requirement to take reasonable precautions to ensure that: storage, handling and disposal of products, their remnants (old products and unused tank mixes) and packaging; and cleaning of equipment do not endanger human health or the environment. When handling, storing or disposing of products taking the following steps would help in satisfying the requirement to take “reasonable precautions”-

in the case of non-professional products, following instructions on storage and disposal of the product in accordance with instructions on the product label.

in the case of professional products, identifying and mitigating any risks; and following good filling, storage and disposal practice such as that detailed in the Code of Practice.

NEW REQUIREMENTS WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT

1.6 New specific measures to protect water

There is a new requirement to give preference to particular types of products where: the use of a product represents a risk to the aquatic environment and/or drinking water supplies; and there is more than one product authorised for a particular situation. The legislation provides that, so far as is reasonably practicable, preference should be given to products not classified as dangerous for the aquatic environment and not containing priority hazardous substances. Priority hazardous substances are listed in Annex II of Directive 2008/105/EC.

Many factors (product toxicity, mobility, user practice, application of risk mitigation, method of application, condition of machinery, crop or situation, topography, soil type and weather) will determine whether use of a pesticide presents a risk to the aquatic environment or drinking water supplies. It is important, however, that users and advisors assess all risks (human health and the environment) and do not afford a disproportionate emphasis to any particular area. For example, it would not be appropriate to give preference to a product that may be assessed as posing less of a risk to the aquatic environment, if use of the alternative product posed a substantially greater risk to human health. We recognise that it may not be “reasonably practicable” for a user to readily obtain a ‘preferred’ product.

1.7 New requirement to minimise use in specific areas

There is also a new requirement to ensure that the amount of pesticide used and the frequency of use is as low as reasonably practicable where products are used in a number of specific areas. These areas are: roads, railways, very permeable surfaces or other infrastructure close to surface and groundwater; sealed surfaces with a high risk of run-off to surface water and sewage systems; areas used by the general public or vulnerable groups; in the close vicinity of healthcare facilities; in conservation areas; and areas which will be used by or accessible to agricultural workers.

Users need to take into account the appropriate level of pest, weed or disease control necessary in particular situations when deciding their control strategy. For example, the control strategy required for a football pitch in a public park may differ from that on the greens of a championship golf course. Given that needs will differ and that the level of pest, weed and disease control and local risks can vary it is not appropriate for official guidance to specify the level of control and consequently what constitutes an appropriate amount or frequency of use, for all circumstances which might arise.

Will any evidence, such as additional records to those already kept, be required to demonstrate compliance with the requirement to minimise use?

No, the onus will be on any enforcing authority to demonstrate that use had not been minimised using the evidence available.

In this legislation:

‘agricultural’ covers the production of both food and non-food crops and livestock

‘sealed surfaces’ , in practice, will refer to surfaces that do not allow liquid to pass through them. “Capped soil” is not a sealed surface.

1.8 Changes to the rules for aerial spraying

For those applying pesticides from an aircraft or those responsible for such operations, spray operations will have to be conducted in accordance with an approved Application Plan. Aerial spraying is prohibited unless the operator holds a permit, issued by CRD for spray operations carried out in accordance with approved plans. We have been working with the aerial spraying industry to ensure that they are aware of their new responsibilities. Detailed information is available on the Aerial Spraying Permit Arrangements page.

For how long should records be kept?

Record keeping is now aligned with that of all other users as specified in Regulation 19 of the Plant Protection Products Regulation 2011, which transposes Article 67 of 1007/2009 (5 years for producers, suppliers, distributors, importers, and exporters and 3 years for professional users).

Is the information to be made available to the public directly without a request from a specific member of the public or is information to be made available on request via the competent authority?

The Chemicals Regulation Division (CRD) is only obliged to consider releasing information it actually holds and is not required to obtain information purely in response to a request it has received for it. Unless required for a specific statutory purpose CRD will not generally hold copies of spray records. However where such records are held CRD will consider their release in response to a specific request for them in accordance with the legislative provisions of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and the Data Protection Act 1998.

1.9 New requirement for safe storage of pesticides

There is a new requirement to ensure that pesticides are stored in areas that are constructed in a way as to prevent unwanted releases. Anyone storing pesticide products should follow practices consistent with those detailed in the existing Codes of Practice and in doing so they would have reasonable basis for demonstrating due diligence in complying with the requirements of this legislation.

NEW OBLIGATIONS TAKING EFFECT BY 26 NOVEMBER 2016

1.10 New obligations for the regular inspection of Plant Protection Product Application Equipment

By 26 November 2016 and at regular intervals thereafter owners of pesticide application equipment in use (except knapsack and handheld sprayers) must ensure it is inspected to certain timetables. Equipment that is not in use or that which is not used for applying pesticides is not affected.

All application equipment in use (except knapsack and handheld sprayers) must pass inspection once by 26 November 2016, unless it is less than five years old on that date.

All application equipment in use (except knapsack and handheld sprayers) must pass inspection once before the 5th anniversary of its purchase.

Inspection intervals for different types of application equipment

The following types of equipment must be inspected at least once by 2016 and inspected at intervals of no more than 5 years between 2016 and 2020 and at intervals of no more than 3 years after 2020;

Equipment that represents a very low scale of use, including that which is not used for spraying pesticides, will be subject to a maximum inspection interval of 6 years. Thus this equipment type must be inspected once by 26 November 2016 (unless it is less than five years old on that date) and at intervals of no more than 6 years thereafter. We have included a complete list of these equipment types in the National Action Plan, and will update it as appropriate. Note that granular applicators include slug pellet applicators.

Knapsack and handheld sprayers will be exempt from the requirement to pass inspection.

Designated bodies

The Regulations require that the competent authority designates bodies responsible for implementing and administering the inspection system and that it includes the names of those bodies on a published list.

National Sprayer Testing Scheme (NSTS)

The NSTS system is compatible with the requirements of the Directive, therefore anyone having their equipment inspected under the NSTS will be doing enough to meet this new obligation.

1.11 New requirement for those who purchase products for professional use to ensure the end user holds an appropriate certificate

After 26 November 2015, anyone who is purchasing a pesticide authorised for professional use must ensure the product will be used by someone who holds an appropriate training certificate or who will be working under the direct supervision of someone who holds one (because they are undergoing training); this means that users who currently hold “grandfather rights” will need to get a certificate by 26 November 2015. An appropriate training certificate is one which relates to the relevant use of the product being purchased.

Does the seller need to check whether the purchaser has the correct certificate?

The distributor or seller of the products is not required to check the purchaser or intended user holds the appropriate certificate but they are recommended to remind customers of their obligation to ensure that the end users have the proper certificate, by whatever means they feel appropriate (notices on websites, or at premises, and advice on company literature for example).

SECTION 2.0 OBLIGATIONS ON THOSE WHO STORE AND SELL PESTICIDES

NEW OBLIGATIONS TAKING IMMEDIATE EFFECT AND EXISTING OBLIGATIONS THAT WILL CONTINUE

2.1 Continued requirement, until 25 November 2015, for persons selling, supplying or otherwise marketing to an end user a plant protection product authorised for agricultural use (in effect a pesticide authorised for professional use) to hold a specified certificate; or to sell or supply that plant protection product under supervision

This is a transitional provision in the legislation which has been included to ensure that the current requirement for those who sell and supply pesticides (in effect, advisors) have a BASIS certificate for Sale and Supply that carries on until 25 November 2015, after which the requirement at 2.5 below should have the same effect for sellers of pesticides authorised for professional use.

2.2 Continued requirements for storage, handling and disposal

There is a continued requirement to take reasonable precautions to ensure that: storage, handling and disposal of products, their remnants (old products and unused tank mixes) and packaging; and cleaning of equipment do not endanger human health or the environment. When handling, storing or disposing of products taking the following steps would help in satisfying the requirement to take “reasonable precautions”:

2.3 New requirements for distributors of non-professional products to provide information to customers

Distributors of non-professional products are required to provide general information on the risks for human health and the environment of pesticide use; on hazards, storage exposure, handling, safe application and disposal. However, in the UK the comprehensive, specific and stringent labelling requirements for non-professional products ensure that this information is already provided on the product label, therefore this requirement should mean little or no change to current practice.

2.4 New requirement for safe storage of pesticides

There is a new requirement to ensure that pesticides are stored in areas that are constructed in a way as to prevent unwanted releases. Anyone storing pesticide products should follow practices consistent with those detailed in the existing Codes of Practice and in doing so they would have reasonable basis for demonstrating due diligence in complying with the requirements of this legislation.

NEW OBLIGATIONS TO TAKE EFFECT BY 26 NOVEMBER 2015

The new legislation introduces a number of new requirements which take effect at various dates in the future.

2.5 Distributors of plant protection products (including internet sellers) to have staff available to provide information

By 26 November 2015, distributors who sell to end users must ensure that they have sufficient numbers of staff with specified certificates available at the time of sale of pesticides to provide information to customers on: pesticide use; health and environmental risks; and safety instructions to manage those risks for the products in question.

Distributors of Professional Products

For distributors of professional products we would expect the existing arrangements to continue (as described at 2.1 above); that those involved in sale and supply (in other words, advisors) would continue to have a BASIS certificate for Sale and Supply.

Distributors of Non-professional Products

In the case of distributors of non-professional products (who are not micro-distributors (see below)), it will be necessary to employ certificated staff to be available to provide information to customers on request, at the point of sale. We are working with representatives of the pesticides industry to provide for the development of the Directive. These arrangements will be available in good time for meeting the Directive's deadline. More detailed guidance will be issued in due course.

NOTE: A distributor in the situations above is anyone who makes a plant protection product available on the market, for purchase by the end user, including retailers, and those who sell over the internet.

Distributors that sell only to other distributors (such as wholesalers) do not have to meet these requirements.

What is a micro-distributor?

The requirement to employ sufficient certificated staff does not apply to a distributor that is a micro-distributor.

A micro-distributor is a business that;

Sole traders

A distributor who is a sole trader will be required to hold a specified certificate (such as, for distributors of professional products, the BASIS Certificate for Sale and Supply) if they do not employ any staff.

Internet sales

Distributors who sell professional products over the internet have exactly the same requirements as those who sell from shops. They must have sufficient staff holding the BASIS Certificate for Sale and Supply, or equivalent, to provide information to customers.

What does “sufficient staff" mean?

In practice this will mean different things depending on the individual circumstances. It will be for the individual distributor or parent organisation to decide what sufficient staff means in their case. A small independent shop with normal opening hours might need one or two members of staff to have a certificate. A larger chain of stores might consider having a number of staff available to answer questions on a customer helpline or having one or two available in each store. Internet sellers will likewise need to have staff available at the time of sale.

Note: The staff must be available at the time of sale (rather than at the point of sale) so information can be provided by telephone.

SECTION 3.0 CERTIFICATION OF ADVISORS

There is no legal requirement for advisors to have a certificate in the new regulations, because the Directive does not require it. However, we would envisage that all advisors, whether they work for distributors or independently, would hold a BASIS Certificate for Sale and Supply, or equivalent. Although it is not a criminal offence for an advisor not to hold such a certificate, the advisor role is a highly specialised and responsible profession and one where it is essential to be appropriately qualified. The industry supports this position and, for example, all AICC members must be suitably qualified and BASIS Professional Register members.

UK Crop Assurance schemes require that where an advisor, consultant or trade representative advises on pesticide usage on farm, they must be a member of the BASIS Professional Register. To employ an advisor who is not a member of the BASIS Professional Register is recorded as a major non-compliance and a ‘critical failure’ for schemes such as Red Tractor Assurance.

The requirement of membership of an industry recognised and supported continuing professional development (CPD) scheme is important in ensuring that an advisor's knowledge is kept up to date with current legislation, technology and methodology, and helps to meet the requirement that ‘guidance recognises that users need to take into account the appropriate level of pest, weed or disease control necessary in particular situations when deciding their control strategy’.

SECTION 4.0 CHANGES TO THE TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION REGIME

The United Kingdom competent authorities had to ensure, by 26 November 2013, that systems were established to provide distributors, advisors and professional users with access to appropriate training by designated bodies and enabling them to obtain certificates which provide evidence of sufficient knowledge of the subjects listed in Annex I to the Directive either by undergoing training or by other means (“certification systems”).

Accreditation of awards and designation of awarding bodies

The United Kingdom competent authorities (Chemicals Regulation Division of the Health and Safety Executive acting on their behalf) must designate awarding bodies. An awarding body may only be designated if it has the necessary capability to implement certification systems and offers awards that are accredited or are subject to independent review by a regulator (such as OfQual).

These awarding bodies will be designated by having their names included on a list published by the competent authority. The list (pdf, 3 pages) has been published and may be updated from time to time. Training bodies are bodies that offer training on the subjects listed in Annex I to the Directive as appropriate, leading to an accredited award in relation to plant protection products.

What will change?

Not much, in practice. The UK already has a comprehensive regulatory framework for the training and certification of those who work with pesticides and this is very similar to the one envisaged by the Directive. Therefore, all that needed to happen was for the competent authority to officially designate those awarding bodies (for example, BASIS, City and Guilds) that will offer accredited certificates after 26 November 2013. This has been done by placing a list (pdf, 3 pages) of designated awarding bodies on the competent authority’s website. This is just a formality, to bring our arrangements into line with those in the Directive.

All existing certificates of competence remain valid after 26 November 2013.

Any organisation that wishes to become a designated awarding body under the Regulations will need to satisfy the relevant UK competent authority that it is capable of administering a certification system and that the awards it offers are accredited by, or are subject to independent review by, a regulator (such as OfQual).

Training in the use of vertebrate control agents or food storage products

Previously, the UK’s regulatory requirements for certification of pesticide users did not cover the use of vertebrate control agents or food storage products. Operators using these types of plant protection products were required to be trained and competent for their work but they were not obliged to hold a certificate of competence. There were no specific requirements relating to the type of training courses that needed to be undertaken. From 26 November 2013 anyone using those products needs to ensure that they hold a specified certificate, namely one that is included on the list (pdf, 3 pages) published by the appropriate UK competent authority (“listed”).

Operators

Anyone who holds a certificate that is no longer valid after 26 November 2013 will need to obtain a certificate issued by an awarding body and listed in order to carry on operating legally after that date.

Training bodies

Anyone who provides training or offers certificates in these areas after 26 November 2013 will need to consider whether they wish to undertake the necessary steps to get their certificates accredited by a regulator and to become a designated training/awarding body.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Chemicals Regulation Division of the Health and Safety Directorate

First published 6 July 2012 and updated February 2014, December 2014.

Updated 2017-03-28