Storing pesticides and weedkillers is now a major compliance headache

Company: Complete Weed Control Scotland

Most published material relating to pesticides, both scientific and in the media, focuses on negative attributes. A paper on the subject revealed a ratio of 40 negative articles for each one that took a more positive view.

The same paper highlighted that, if pesticides were abolished, the lives saved would be outnumbered by a factor of around 1000 by the lives lost due to poorer diets. Secondary impacts would be massive environmental damage.

The benefits pesticides and herbicides such as weedkillers bring include increased crop and livestock yields, improved food safety, better health, better quality of life and longevity, reduced energy use and environmental degradation – and reduced human drudgery.

So, Plant Protection Products (PPPs), as they are known in the official literature, have their place. But that place, like everything else in the agri-food sector, is tightly regulated and, in the UK, it is about to become even more so.


The concern among responsible users of PPPs, such as Complete Weed Control, is that anyone who produces, uses or stores the chemicals involved is subject to the new regulations, and to an inspection and sanctioning regime that could have significant effects on their businesses. The further concern is that not many people know that.

The Official Controls (Plant Protection Products) Regulations 2020 apply to the whole of Great Britain and supplement existing regulations that govern the sale and use of PPPs. OCR is part of the Smarter Rules for Safer Food, established to modernise and simplify the agri-food chain in Europe. 

If a business’s day to day operations involve pesticides, it must now register with the Competent Authority. This is the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in England and the Scottish and Welsh Governments in Scotland and Wales.

This does not just mean major users. The rules apply even if a business only has a five-litre container of PPP lying about somewhere in a shed. There is still a legal requirement to be registered – and businesses should be aware that enforcement officers are now in place, and active.

Local authorities, landscapers, sports grounds, facilities management companies, landed estates, golf courses – the list is endless – need to be aware of this.

They also need to know that the new inspectors have the same sweeping powers as the Health and Safety Executive – and if they see something else which is a concern then they can recommend an HSE colleague visits and can shut a business down, albeit temporarily.

Understanding the new rules and regulations is not an easy task and CWC invested in external help to audit them. The company has also put personnel through their BASIS Amenity Nominated Storekeeper (ANSK) course to be on safe side, since a qualified storekeeper is now required to oversee PPP containment.


Staff also need to keep records and be conscious of impact of differences in temperature and amenity on the products. There are strict rules around transporting PPPs too – for instance, if a product is stored in a van for more than 24 hours, then the van is classed as a store.

The dilemma now for business owners is this: is it worth the risk of keeping PPPs on the premises, with all the costs of compliance now involved? Or is the more sensible option to outsource storage and use to an external contractor which has already understood and assumed the compliance burden?

I can see some urgent discussions along these lines taking place in boardrooms and management suites across the country as the implications of the new OCR Regulations begin to sink in.

Share this...
Next Article Back
Let us hear your thoughts on this article...

To see earlier stories - Look in the News Archive