Departmental responsibilities regarding pesticides

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is responsible for implementing EU legislation on agricultural pesticides (or plant protection products) in Northern Ireland.

DAERA's pesticides roles and responsibilities

In this work, DAERA has produced a Code of Practice which provides practical advice for users of plant protection products. It explains how you can use pesticides and plant protection products safely and so meet the legal conditions which cover their use.

DAERA follows the lead of the Chemicals Regulation Directorate and is responsible for implementing EU legislation on agricultural pesticides (or plant protection products) in Northern Ireland. DAERA prepares local legislation in line with EU Directives and Regulations. 

The Chemicals Regulation Directorate (CRD) of HSE acts as the delivery body for regulating plant protection products authorised for sale, supply, use and storage in the UK and carries out the approvals process. The law requires that only plant protection products which are authorised shall be sold, supplied, used, stored or advertised.  Information on how to apply for an approval can be accessed through the following link to the CRD website.

DAERA and its agencies also support the work of the Chemicals Regulation Directorate in testing for pesticide residues, and offer training, guidance and advice to users of agricultural pesticides.

DAERA has produced Guidance on Understanding Pesticide Product Labels.

The use of pesticides in the home, in gardens, or on amenity lands such as golf courses and parks, is the remit of local authority Environmental Health Officers and HSE NI.

DAERA's pesticide legislation

DAERA is responsible for the following key pieces of pesticides legislation:

Legal requirement - storage, sale and supply of pesticides

The Plant Protection Products (Sustainable Use) Regulations 2012 contain legal requirements regarding the storage, sale and supply of pesticides. Distributors are expected to remind purchasers of their legal obligations.

The guidance note for pesticide stores explains the requirements for distributors of pesticides.

Legal requirement – approved certificate of competence for applying professional pesticides

Farmers must undertake an assessment and obtain an approved certificate of competence if they are applying professional pesticides.  If you are not applying the pesticides yourself, you are responsible for ensuring the person applying them on your land has the necessary certificate of competence.  This is a legal requirement under the Plant Protection Products (Sustainable Use) Regulations 2012.

Training and assessment is available for a range of pesticide application methods including knapsack, boom sprayer, weed wiper, orchard sprayer or slug pellet applicator. 

Topics that should be covered during training include:

  • pesticide Legislation
  • preparation of machinery
  • calibrating equipment
  • hygiene and Personal Protective Equipment
  • interpreting a product label
  • preparing and adding pesticides to a tank
  • safe storage and transport of pesticides
  • disposal of pesticides and containers
  • carrying out an environmental risk assessment
  • record keeping

It is essential to ensure that training is delivered fully and that the certificate of competence received following the assessment will meet the legal requirements.  If not then any certificate or records of training received will not be considered valid during an inspection.

For example, it is recommended that training in the use of a boom sprayer should take a total of 12 hours and the subsequent assessment would typically take 2.5 to 3.5 hours.

You can view here a full list of the specified certificates which meet the legal requirements under the Sustainable Use Directive. The certificates listed are currently only available through City and Guilds or Lantra.

Training, assessment and certification

Pesticide training, assessment and certification are available from a range of providers including CAFRE which provides training, assessment and certification by City & Guilds at both Greenmount and Loughry Campuses.

You can enrol for training, assessment and certification on the CAFRE website.

If you have any queries about booking a place on this course, you can contact Industry Training Administration by emailing Industry.TrainingAdmin@daera-ni.gov.uk or calling 028 9442 6880.

Legal requirement - sprayer application equipment testing

The Plant Protection Products (Sustainable Use) Regulations 2012 brought in a new requirement for testing of pesticide application equipment.

From 26 November 2016 all pesticide sprayer application equipment, excluding handheld and knapsack, must have a certificate showing that it has passed an independent inspection before it can be used. 

Subsequent testing requirements:

  • every five years from 26 November 2016 and every 3 years from 26 November 2020 for boom sprayers, air assisted broadcast sprayers and sprayers attached to aircraft
  • every 6 years from 26 November 2016 for boom sprayers less than 3m wide, foggers, misters, batch dippers and applicators for granular pesticides

New spray equipment must be inspected within 5 years of the date of purchase. Handheld equipment and knapsack sprayers should be regularly checked and maintained. 

A person who owns or leases sprayer application equipment must ensure that such equipment is not used by a professional user unless it has passed inspection.

The National Sprayer Testing Scheme (NSTS) is currently the only officially-designated provider for certification of pesticide application equipment in the UK.

If you would like to pre-check your sprayer before offering it for test, NSTS has an Operator Check Sheet  which will give you a good indication of the checks made.

Further information may be found on the National Sprayer Testing Scheme (NSTS) website or telephone: 0845 644 8748. 

Pesticide application equipment testing – Mutual Recognition

Pesticide application equipment certified by an approved inspector, on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), in the ROI can now be used to apply pesticides in the UK.

This is referred to as Mutual Recognition.

 

 

The National Sprayer Testing Scheme (NSTS) is currently the only officially-designated provider for certification of pesticide application equipment in the UK.  Pesticide application equipment which has been certified by NSTS in the UK and then imported into the Republic of Ireland (ROI) can be used in the ROI. 

If the application equipment remains in use in the ROI, subsequent tests must be carried out in the ROI by a Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) approved inspector. 

Pesticide application equipment which has been certified by an approved inspector, on behalf of the DAFM, in the ROI can be used to apply pesticides in the UK.

The legal requirements for sprayer application, equipment testing and subsequent testing are explained above.

All pesticide sprayer application equipment, excluding handheld and knapsack, must have a certificate showing that it has passed an independent inspection before it can be used.

UK National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides (Plant Protection Products)

The UK’s National Action Plan (NAP) meets the obligation on Member States under Article 4 of EU Directive 2009/128/EC to establish a framework for Community action to achieve the sustainable use of pesticides, which has been transposed in the UK by the Plant Protection Products (Sustainable Use) Regulations 2012.

Local authority Environmental Health Officers and HSE NI

Local authority Environmental Health Officers regulate the storage, sale and use of pesticides on certain types of sites or premises -- including sports facilities, caravan and camping sites and in ground maintenance at church premises and sales outlets – under the Health and Safety (Enforcing Authority) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999.

HSENI inspectors carry out identical duties on other sites, as set out in the Health and Safety (Enforcing Authority) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999.

Officers in all cases have powers to enter premises, sample, investigate and if necessary seize products. Notices to prohibit activities or require works can also be served on duty holders.

In most cases an advisory approach will be taken and advice is available if requested.

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