05 December 2012 

Alan Plom (RIG Vice Chair) recently attended the Annual Conference of the Amenity Forum (AF).  Entitled “Promoting Best Practice & Standards”, this was an opportunity for an update on the regulations implementing the Sustainable Use (of Pesticides) Directive (SUD)and the implications of the EU’s Framework Directives on protecting water and soil on use of pesticides.

The AF is an independent industry-led body bringing together professional organisations with an involvement in the amenity horticulture sector. This is a very diverse industry responsible for the landscape management of urban areas, highways and rail network, sports grounds, parks, industrial and utility sites. This mirrors the wide range of interests of members in IOSH and the Rural Industries Group in particular.

The Conference included interesting presentations by Adrian Dixon (CRD); Jo Kennedy (Environment Agency); Steve Gingell(Sports Turf Research Institute); Paul Singleton(AF-Education & Skills Group), plus a particularly entertaining (and alarming) presentation from Neil Strong (Network Rail).  [All presentations are available on the AF website at: Amenity Forum

Why is IOSH RIG involved?

To establish and maintain ‘amenity’ areas to a high standard, the sector requires access to suitable and effective pesticides, efficient equipment and trained and qualified staff. A major concern of members of the AF and many others in the industry is the potential watering-down of the high standards of training for the sale and use of pesticides already established in the UK.  The UK Government have adopted the minimum in the SUD which requires a system for training to be in place and have not opted to specify what form that training should take nor how ‘competence’ can be demonstrated.

The AF and others in the industry had hoped that the system and standards used in the agricultural sector(driven by farm produce assurance schemes) would be extended and made mandatory, along with CPD.  However, testing of spraying equipment will now be required, and there are a number of other specific duties placed on sellers, purchasers and users.

The AF was formed in October 2003 as a key action to support the ‘Voluntary Initiative’, an industry- led project agreed with Government to reduce the environmental impact of pesticides. The membership includes organisations from across this diverse industry, covering manufacturers, suppliers, trade associations, local authorities, major users, landscape, sport and leisure. Equally important are those members who represent training and qualification standards. The key Government agencies (including HSE’s Chemical Regulations Directorate) also have an important observer role.

IOSH Rural Industries Group fully endorses and supports the principles and objectives of the Amenity Forum.  The objectives of the Amenity Forum are:

·         To be the collective body representing the amenity industry, in relation to pesticide use

·         To lead, coordinate and encourage achievement of "Best Practice" objectives in amenity pesticide use

·         To coordinate and encourage the establishment of sustainable qualifications, training and CPD activity, specifically for the amenity sector

·         To organise activities within the AF membership and linked organisations, such that AF objectives are developed in a coordinated way.

Amenity Forum website

Further information and guidance on the safe use of amenity pesticides is available on the AF website at  Amenity Forum and specifically on the implications of the SUD and other Directives at: Amenity Forum News.

The AF website is a key source of information with a series of guidance notes posted on a wide range of topics. There is also a copy of the Forum’s response to the consultation on a National Action Plan for implementing the SUD.  The AF have also set up a useful ‘Message Board’, some of which can be read by non-members.

Regulatory and information updates are also available directly from CRD via their website, or by subscribing to the HSE Pesticides e-Bulletin at:  HSE website

Use of Pesticides on Hard Surfaces

The AF’s “Best Practice Guidance Note: Hard Surface Herbicide Application” has recently been produced to help users comply with the EU Water Framework Directive and the Plant Protection Products (Sustainable Use) Regulations 2012, which require all pesticide users to protect water quality by minimising the risk of water contamination from pesticides. On hard surfaces, herbicides have to applied appropriately to avoid run-off of product into urban drainage systems and full risk assessment should be undertaken before application.

Amenity Assured Scheme

The AF have worked to develop the Amenity Assured scheme since it was launched, and to establish the “Amenity Assured Standard” as the recognised quality benchmark  for all involved in amenity pesticide application.  This is intended to attract greater recognition, revised audit procedures and wider adoption.