The UK Government’s priority with regards to pesticides is to ensure that they will not harm people or wildlife, or pose unacceptable risks to the environment. To this end, we operate a strict system for regulating pesticides.
A pesticide may only be placed on the market in the UK if the product has been authorised by our regulator, the Health and Safety Executive, following a thorough risk assessment, which includes impacts on people, animals and the environment. If there are found to be unacceptable risks, to pollinators for example, the product is not authorised. The risk assessment also specifically addresses the situation of people living near where pesticides are used. Pesticide users are legally required to ensure that use is kept to the area to be treated and not allowed to drift onto neighbouring properties, and there are statutory conditions of use for all authorised pesticide products that must be followed.
The Government is committed to supporting alternatives to chemical pesticides. In our 25 Year Environment Plan, the Government has outlined its approach to reducing the environmental impact of pesticides. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) lies at the heart of our approach to maximise the use of non-chemical control techniques and minimise the use of chemical pesticides. IPM is defined as the combined use of all available control methods. This means that pesticide users can take a holistic approach in reducing the associated risks (including indirect effects) whilst combating pest resistance. IPM also includes measures to optimise pesticide application, with the aim of reducing non target effects and unnecessary environmental exposure. This includes increasing the use of nature-based, low toxicity solutions and precision technologies, with the potential to enhance biodiversity, as well as benefit pollinators.
Our approach is detailed in the draft revised ‘National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides’ (NAP), which sets out the ambition to improve indicators of pesticide usage, risk and impacts. This was the subject of a recent public consultation, with over 1,500 responses received and analysed. The summary of responses will be published in due course and the revised NAP later this year.
The objective must be to reduce the risks and impacts associated with pesticides. These depend not only on the amount of pesticide used, but which pesticide is used and where use takes place. The draft revised NAP supports the development of low toxicity methods and improved advice and support for pesticides users, to reduce their impacts on human health and the environment.
We are also taking action alongside many partners to implement the National Pollinator Strategy’s provisions to help wild and managed pollinators to thrive. The Strategy sets out actions to address key risks and pressures, such as: habitat loss and fragmentation; invasive species; pests and disease; and climate change. This includes supporting IPM by restoring and creating habitats in rural and urban areas, including parks and gardens, and raising awareness across society so that people can take action themselves, by carefully considering whether or not to use pesticides in gardens, parks and other urban areas.
More broadly, our Environment Bill sets a new legal foundation for Government action to improve the environment. For example, it introduces Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRSs) to underpin the development of the Nature Recovery Network (NRN), an expanded and better-connected network of places that are richer in wildlife, more resilient to climate change and provide a range of benefits for people. LNRSs and the NRN Delivery Partnership, led by Natural England, will help bring people and organisations together at local and national levels to identify priorities and opportunities for nature recovery. We are integrating the goals for the network into a wide range of funding streams, including: land management schemes that reward environmental benefits; biodiversity net gain; and the Nature for Climate Fund.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs