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Guidance on the requirements of the Plant Protection Products (Sustainable Use) Regulations 2012

Legislation on the use of Plant Protection Products

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 (PPPs).

The use of PPPs 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 PPPs 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.

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.

Who is affected by the changes?

The following are the main activities where responsibilities have changed:

This guidance covers:

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 Obligations on those who use and store PPPs

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.

A list of designated awarding bodies and recognised specified certificates 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The legislation provides that certificates can be withdrawn if the holder is found guilty of an offence under the Regulations.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.

1.2 Requirement for anyone who uses a PPP 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:

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 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 Obligation to confine PPP application to the target area

Users will continue to be subject to a requirement to confine PPP 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 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’

1.6 Specific measures to protect water

There is a 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 PPP 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 Requirement to minimise use in specific areas

There is also a requirement to ensure that the amount of PPP 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:

1.8 The rules for aerial spraying

For those applying PPPs 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 HSE for spray operations carried out in accordance with approved plans. 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 Regulations 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 Health and Safety Executive (HSE) 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 HSE will not generally hold copies of spray records. However, where such records are held HSE 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 General Data Protection Regulations.

1.9 Requirement for safe storage of PPPs

There is a requirement to ensure that PPPs are stored in areas that are constructed in a way as to prevent unwanted releases. Anyone storing PPPs 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.

1.10 Obligations for the regular inspection of Plant Protection Product Application Equipment

Owners of equipment used to apply PPPs (except knapsack and handheld sprayers) must ensure it is inspected at regular intervals. Equipment that is not in use or not used for applying PPPs is not affected. All new equipment must be tested within 5 years of purchase, then every 3 or 6 years depending on the type of equipment.

The following types of equipment must be inspected at intervals of no more than 3 years:

Other types of application equipment that represents a very low scale of use, such as granule application and fogging equipment, will be subject to a maximum inspection interval of 6 years. A complete list of such equipment can be found in Annex 4 of the National Action Plan and will be updated as appropriate.

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.

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

Anyone who purchases a PPP authorised for professional use must ensure the product will be used by someone who holds an appropriate certificate or who will be working under the direct supervision of someone who holds one (because they are undergoing training). An appropriate 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 Obligations on those who store and sell PPPs

2.1 Requirements for storage, handling and disposal

There is a 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’:

2.2 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 PPP 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.

2.3 Requirement for safe storage of PPPs

There is a requirement to ensure that PPPs are stored in areas that are constructed in a way as to prevent unwanted releases. Anyone storing PPPs 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.

2.4 Requirements for distributors of PPPs (including internet sellers) to have staff available to provide information

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 PPPs to provide information to customers on: PPP use; health and environmental risks; and safety instructions to manage those risks for the products in question.

Distributors of professional products

Distributors of professional products and those involved in sale and supply (in other words, advisors) are required to have a BASIS certificate for Sale and Supply.

Distributors of non-professional products

Distributors of non-professional products (who are not micro-distributors, see below), it is necessary to employ certificated staff to be available to provide information to customers on request, at the point of sale.

Note: A distributor in the situations above is anyone who makes a PPP 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 Certification of advisors

There is no legal requirement for advisors to have a certificate in the regulations, because the Directive does not require it. However, we envisage that all advisors, whether they work for distributors or independently, 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 Association of Independent Crop Consultants (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 PPP usage on farms, 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 Training and certification regime

Accreditation of awards and designation of awarding bodies

The GB/NI competent authorities (HSE 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 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.

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 PPP 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 published by the appropriate UK competent authority (‘listed’).

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Updated 2020-12-30