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Outdoor use of metaldehyde banned from spring 2020

A ban on the outdoor use of metaldehyde is to be introduced across Great Britain from spring 2020, the Environment Secretary has announced.

Metaldehyde, a chemical used in the majority of slug pellets, poses dangers to wildlife and can also contaminate drinking water sources.

The decision to prohibit the use of metaldehyde, except in permanent greenhouses, follows advice from the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides (ECP) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that metaldehyde poses an unacceptable risk to birds and mammals.

The impact on drinking water was not a factor in the advice from ECP and HSE, but the restrictions will help water companies to avoid issues with the pesticide.

The outdoor use of metaldehyde will be phased out over 18 months to give growers time to adjust to other methods of slug control. It will be legal to sell metaldehyde products for outdoor use for the next six months, with use of the products then allowed for a further 12 months.

Defra has offered advice on other means of controlling slugs, such as sowing the seed deeper into the soil to prevent the slugs from reaching them, or using alternative pesticides containing ferric phosphate.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: "I recognise that significant effort has been put into encouraging growers and gardeners to use this pesticide responsibly by the Metaldehyde Stewardship Group. However, the advice is clear that the risks to wildlife are simply too great – and we must all play our part in helping to protect the environment.

"I encourage companies and growers to look at the alternatives, such as ferric phosphate, which is authorised and does not carry similar risks."

Ben Shapiro, representing the Amateur Metaldehyde Stewardship group (MSA), said: “We are continuing to consult with Defra surrounding the sell-out period for the amateur uses of metaldehyde products.”

Author: Robin Hackett, editor, WWT
Topic: Policy & Regulation , Treatment , Water Quality
Tags: Metaldehyde , defra , water companies , drinking water , environment , wildlife

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