The Food and Environment Protection Act
Statutory powers to control pesticides are contained within Part III of (Food and Environment Protection Act (FEPA). Section 16 of the Act describes the aims of the controls as being to:
- protect the health of human beings, creatures and plants;
- safeguard the environment;
- secure safe, efficient and humane methods of controlling pests;
- make information about pesticides available to the public.
The Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986
The mechanism by which these aims are achieved is set out in regulations made under the Act. The Control of Pesticides Regulations (COPR) 1986 (SI 1986/1510):
- define in detail those types of pesticides which are subject to control and those which are excluded;
- prescribe the approvals required before any pesticide may be sold, stored, supplied, used or advertised;
- allow for general conditions on sale, supply, storage, advertisement, and use, including aerial application of pesticides.
The 1986 Regulations were updated by the COPR (Amendment) Regulations 1997 (SI 1997/188).
COPR has largely been overtaken by EU legislation regulating plant protection products (pesticides to protect plants/crops), and only survives to regulate a few commodity substances and products used to generate ethylene (for fruit ripening) in the UK, which fall outside the scope of the EU regime.
Definition of Pesticides
Under FEPA, a pesticide is any substance, preparation or organism prepared or used, among other uses, to protect plants or wood or other plant products from harmful organisms; to regulate the growth of plants; to give protection against harmful creatures; or to render such creatures harmless.
The term pesticides therefore has a very broad definition which embraces herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, rodenticides, soil-sterilants, wood preservatives and surface biocides among others. A more complete definition and details of pesticides which fall outside the scope of the legislation is given in Regulation 3 of COPR.
Who is Affected by the Legislation?
Anyone who advertises, sells, supplies, stores or uses a pesticide is affected by the legislation, including people who use pesticides in their own homes, gardens and allotments.