Farmers in Northamptonshire being warned that the clock is ticking in the race to meet fresh legislation on the use of pesticides.
New laws mean there are just nine months until a certificate of competence becomes a legal requirement for anyone using aluminium phosphides to control rabbits, rats and moles in their burrows.
And the leader of an independent stewardship scheme is urging those affected to avoid a race against time.
David Cross, chairman of RAMPS UK (the Register of Accredited Metallic Phosphide Standards), said: “From November 26, gamekeepers using products such as Talunex and Phostoxin must demonstrate they’ve achieved the new Level 2 Award, even if they’ve had previous training.
“After that date, no one will be able to use the products without this new certificate of competence.
“It’s a rule which will affect a lot of people and we want to make sure those who have not yet gained the qualification do so in plenty of time.
“A large number of candidates are already taking the course and numbers are growing.
“Demand will inevitably exceed supply as the deadline approaches so I would urge people who will be affected to act soon.”
The use of Aluminium Phosphide products has long been governed and restricted, but the new rules introduce a legal requirement for users to be certified under the Plant Protection Products (Sustainable Use) Regulations 2012.
The move, which is part of an industry drive for better stewardship, is being overseen by RAMPS UK - set up by the marketing companies involved in the supply of metal phosphides to the pest control, agriculture,
horticulture and gamekeeping industries to establish standards of good practice for sellers, suppliers and users.
Mr Cross added: “The purpose of RAMPS UK is to ensure all buyers, users and suppliers of aluminium phosphide products are aware of the implications of the new legislation.
“We want to ensure everyone involved takes the necessary steps to enable them to continue to use or sell these substances lawfully after the deadline.”
Phosphine is a vitally important fumigant used to control rabbits, rats and moles and a wide range of invertebrates which can infest stored food.
It’s the most toxic substance used for controlling pests in the UK and as such, according to RAMPS UK, deserves ‘special attention’ to protect both people and non-target animals.
Mr Cross said: “The industry recognised the need to maintain these products for controlling the pests for which it’s currently approved and wanted to improve the level of stewardship without being anti-competitive to its supply.
“So RAMPS UK was established to ensure the sustainable use of the products through training and certification. It’s a scheme which acts as a form of self-regulation and it gives our industry the chance to demonstrate the highest standards.”
The stewardship scheme, which features independent pest control register BASIS along with stakeholders, manufacturer Detia Degesch, distributors and user members, has created a network of trainers to provide courses leading to City & Guilds, Royal Society for Public Health and LANTRA qualifications.
Training can organised through distributors or via www.RAMPS-UK.org