This page gives information on controls relating to aerial spraying of pesticides.
Anyone carrying out aerial spraying must make sure that:
- the spraying is done in line with an approved Application Plan; and
- specific spray operations have been permitted by the Chemicals Regulation Directorate (CRD).
The Application Plan must be completed by aerial spraying operators and submitted to CRD. It must contain details that will allow CRD to consider approval of the Plan and whether to permit any spray operations carried out in line with it.
Application Plans and Permits
Operators must complete the template Application Plans, available on this webpage under "Further Information". In order to take account of different legislation in the countries of the UK, and to speed up the process of applications, separate Plans should be completed for aerial spraying in: England and Wales; Scotland; or Northern Ireland.
Plans exist for applications to control bracken. Additional Plans may be developed for other situations (for example, control of potato blight or use in forestry situations, etc.).
The Application Plan can (but does not have to) include details of specific spray operations.
CRD will aim to process requests to approve Application Plans and permits within 10 working days. A request will not be deemed to have been ‘submitted’ until all the necessary details have been received by CRD. Where CRD has legislative obligations to take account of the views of conservation agencies (typically where spraying takes place in or close to a conservation area), it will be necessary to 'stop the clock'. Applicants should take account of this when considering the timing of submission of Application Plans.
The definition of ‘close to a conservation area’ will differ depending on the pest, weed or disease being treated and pesticide applied. CRD can provide advice.
Spraying land treated/permitted last year as part of a multi-annual programme
This would be if the first treatment had failed to reduce the canopy cover to any noticeable degree on the land to be sprayed: was included in a permit issued in 2012 as part of a multi-annual control programme that had previously been permitted; which had not been sprayed; had not been subject to any significant change (e.g. burnt) since the 2012 consultation; and is still covered by the same consents, agreements and management arrangements that were in place in 2012).
Complete the update template letter. Add details of the reference number of the previous permit. You will see that the template letter also includes a declaration that Best Available Technology will be used. You should also include details of any other changes to the previous permit (for example, Certificate numbers). Letters should be submitted to: email@example.com . Please title your email: Aerial Application Plan. CRD is not required to consult conservation authorities in such cases so will be able to permit such cases fairly readily. Updated permits will be copied to the nature conservation body when issued.
Obtaining Approval for a Plan or Spray Job
Requests for approval of Application Plans or jobs to be carried out in accordance with an approved Plan should be submitted to: firstname.lastname@example.org
A single map detailing the area to be sprayed should be submitted for each job. We advise maps at a scale of 1:25000 as a minimum and of sufficient quality and detail for someone unfamiliar with the area to identify the proposed spraying locations. It should include information to enable the location to be identified (for example, grid lines, annotated with eastings and northings or a point annotated with a grid reference) and a scale or scale bar. Maps can, but need not necessarily, be obtained from the following sources:
Conditions to be met
CRD will consider approval of Application Plans or permit aerial spraying jobs where:
- there are no viable alternatives to an aerial application or clear advantages in terms of reduced impacts on human health and the environment compared with land-based applications. Following discussions with stakeholders CRD has summarised the reasons why aerial spraying operations may be allowed in different situations and included these in the template Application Plans. Applicants must be satisfied these conditions apply to any spray jobs carried out under the Plan;
- information is provided on the provisional time of spraying and the amounts and type of product to be used. Those applying for a permit must include these details. Information relating to timing must be as specific as possible based on knowledge at the time the Plan/request for permission is submitted;
- the pesticides used have been authorised for aerial spraying (this will be shown on the label of the pesticide product) following an assessment of the risks from this method of application. CRD assesses the risk associated with the aerial application of pesticides and grants numbered authorisations for this use. The template Application Plans list the authorisations of all potential products which may be used in the situation covered by that Plan;
- the person applying the pesticide holds a certificate demonstrating that they have sufficient knowledge of safe pesticide use. Operators must add details of the training certificate numbers of all pilots who may be involved in spray operations covered by the Plan;
- the pilot is certified by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Operators must add details of relevant certificate numbers of all pilots who may be involved in spray operations covered by the Plan;
- the area to be sprayed is not in close proximity to residential areas. It is not appropriate to define ‘close proximity’ in relation to safe use of a pesticide in scientific terms as this will vary depending on factors such as local conditions and weather and the toxicity of the product being applied. Pesticide products are not authorised for use if it would be necessary to make sure exposure to human beings adjacent to sprayed areas was controlled by having a ‘no-spray’ zone. Aviation law, however, requires that pilots observe minimum horizontal and vertical distances between their flight path and areas in which people may be found. These are included in the template Application Plans. The need for pilots to observe these distances will make sure that spraying does not take place in close proximity to residential areas and provide a sufficient degree of protection for human health;
- measures are included which make sure there are no adverse effects on the health of bystanders. The template Application Plans include a declaration that appropriate measures (such as signs) will be put in place to warn members of the public of the areas to be treated;
- necessary measures are identified for giving enough warning to residents and bystanders, and to protect the environment in the vicinity of the area to be sprayed. The template Application Plans include possible measures including: spraying only in line with appropriate nature conservation consents; establishing and mitigating risks to water. Because of the extremely precautionary nature of the risk assessment process and provisions on 'no spray zones' in aviation legislation it is not necessary to specify additional measures to warn residents. However, industry guidance notes that it is good practice to inform/involve local Environmental Health Officers as part of the planning process; and
- aircraft are equipped with the best available technology to reduce spray drift. Guidance relating to this requirement is now available, and is included in the template Application Plans.
Withdrawal or amendment of permits
CRD can withdraw or amend permits if:
- any of the conditions under which it was granted are not, or are no longer satisfied;
- false or misleading information was supplied concerning the facts on the basis of which it was issued;
- on the basis of developments in scientific and technical knowledge where the manner of use of the pesticides or products referred to in the permit or the amounts used, or both can be amended; and/or
- the permit holder or pilot has contravened or failed to comply with their regulatory obligations under pesticide legislation.
Permit holders will also be able to request that permits be withdrawn or amended.
Anyone applying pesticides from an aircraft is, of course, subject to wider legal requirements – in particular to:
- take reasonable precautions to protect human health and the environment when using products; and
- take reasonable precautions to ensure that handling and storage operations do not endanger human health and the environment.
Following practices such as those detailed in the Code of Practice for the Safe Use and Storage of Pesticides and the Aerial Application Association's (AAA’s) Operating Standards will provide a reasonable basis for demonstrating due diligence in complying with these requirements.
CRD intends, subject to meeting the necessary legal and safety requirements, developing procedures for an accelerated process for permitting spray operations where it is appropriate to do so.
CRD is arranging for appropriate monitoring to ensure the conditions set out above are adhered to.