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Unsuspecting gardeners may become chemical criminals

August 20, 2003 2:38 PM

Thousands of gardeners could become lawbreakers because of government failure to make provision for a new law on dangerous chemicals, claims a North West Euro-MP.

A range of garden weedkillers and pesticides were withdrawn from shops at the end of July because of growing concern about their consequences for human health and insect life in gardens and rivers. The products can be legally used until the end of December but gardeners must dispose of them by the end of March next year.

Local authorities will be responsible for enforcing the law, and gardeners using the products after Christmas or storing them after next March could face a maximum fine of £5000.

But MEP Chris Davies fears that local councils have not been given proper guidance to handle the disposal of dangerous garden chemicals, and that most gardeners have no idea that their use will become illegal.

The Liberal Democrat is concerned that many of the products will end up being poured down drains, or thrown into bins to end up on landfill sites, where they risk causing greater environmental damage than if used normally.

Product manufacturers have been advising customers to contact their local council, but Mr Davies has learnt that the Environment Agency has not produced any specific guidelines for Local Authorities regarding the disposal of the banned pesticides.

With the WWF (Worldwide Fund for Nature) warning of a catastrophic decline in insect species threatening the survival of birds, small mammals and fish, British ministers agreed in 1991 to a Europe-wide initiative to control the use of untested garden chemicals. Manufacturers of pesticides and weedkillers were given until now to prove that they were safe or withdraw them from sale.

Among the withdrawn products are lawn weedkillers containing Dichlorprop, a chemical known to be harmful to fertility and acquatic life. (See below for full list of chemicals)

Chris Davies has attacked the Government's failure to provide information about the ban and to ensure that local councils are offering safe disposal facilities.

He said: "These new restrictions are good news for the environment. For too long we have been treating our planet like a giant chemistry set. If products cannot be shown to be safe then they simply should not be on the market.

"But it is no use at all for British ministers to sign up to reforms like these and then fail to make provision to have the new law implemented. The Government has had 12 years to prepare for this moment and now it is dumping the problem on local councils at the very last moment."

Notes to editors

Products containing dichlorprop, 2,3,6-TBA, dikegulac, resmethrin tar acids and triforine have been withdrawn.

Below is a list of all the products withdrawn from sale in July and which will be illegal on 1 January 2004.

ASDA Lawn Feed Weed and Mosskiller, Lawn Spot Weeder, Lawn Feed and Weed

AgrEvo Lawn Weedkiller Concentrate

Armillatox (Plant Protection Uses Only Withdrawn)

B & Q Granular Weed and Feed for Lawns, Spring Lawn Care Granular Feed Weed Mosskiller, Spring Lawn Care Granular Feed Weed, Liquid Weed and Feed, Lawn Weedkiller, Nettle Gun, Lawn Spot Weeder, Lawn Feed and Weed

Boots Nettle and Bramble Weedkiller

Cutlass (Miracle Garden Care Ltd and The Scotts Company)

Do It All Lawn Feed & Weed, Wipeout! Lawn Weed Killer, Lawn Weedkiller

Doff Lawn Feed and Weed regular, New Formula Weedkiller and Soluble Powder, Lawn Spot Weeder, Nettle Gun,

Evergreen Grasshopper

Fisons Ready-to-Use Lawn Weedkiller, Water-on Lawn Weedkiller

Focus Lawn Feed and Weed, Nettle Gun, Lawn Spot Weeder, Lawn Weedkiller

Grasshopper Triple Action, Weed & Feed

Great Mills Lawn Feed & Weed, Lawn Spot Weeder, Lawn Weedkiller

Greensward Triple Action

Groundclear

Homebase Lawn Weedkiller Liquid and Ready To Use Sprayer, Liquid Lawn Feed, Nettle Gun and Weed

House Plant Pest Killer

J Arthur Bower's Granular Feed and Weed, Granular Feed, Weed and Mosskiller, Lawn Feed and Weed, Lawn Feed, Weed and Mosskiller, Lawn Weed and Mosskiller, Lawn Weedkiller

Jeyes Fluid (Plant Protection Uses Only Withdrawn)

Lawn Weedkiller, Weedkiller Concentrate

Levington Ready to Use Lawn Weedkiller, Water-on Lawn Weedkiller

Murphy Clover-Kil

New Supertox

Nimrod T

Roseclear 2

Touchweeder

Tumbleweed Clover, Clover Ready to Use, Lawns, Lawns Ready to Use

Verdone Plus

Wilko Granular Feed and Weed for Lawns Regular and Mosskiller, Lawn Feed and Weed Regular and Mosskiller, Lawn Spot Weeder, Lawn Weedkiller, Nettle Gun, Soluble Lawn Food and Weedkiller

Woolworths Lawn Spot Weeder, Lawn Weed and Feed, Lawn Weedkiller and Liquid Lawn Feed and Weed

This list is also available at: http://www.pesticides.gov.uk/farmers/essential_uses/products_with_unsupported_actives.htm#amateur