Two years ago manufacturers and users of anticoagulant rodenticides were presented with a clear choice; ensure stewardship of these products or potentially lose their use. The members of the Pest Management Alliance were consulted by HSE/CRRU as part of the professional pest control sector. We made several key recommendations around qualifications and ongoing competence, all of which were adopted by CRRU and subsequently agreed by HSE earlier this year. It is clear that HSE and government recognise the professionalism of our sector – they certainly did not need much persuading that we are the ‘gold standard’. The gamekeepers have got on board with this, recently developing a course and qualification and providing support for their members to stay up to date with changes in rodent control. The agricultural sector has realised that they too must comply with the stewardship regime, and have asked to have two different ‘routes to competence’ available to farms. The first is the same as ours – to get qualified and stay up to date. The second is by remaining on an audited and accepted Farm Assurance Scheme (FAS). These are not a lower standard, as some have claimed. Nor are they an easy way out. They involve annual site audits which include the CRRU Code of Best Practice (CoBP). Failure to comply may result in expulsion from the FAS. The training of auditors in the requirements of the CRRU CoBP will be vital, and the Alliance will be pushing for high standards to be set and maintained.
Only around half of farmers are in a FAS. The remainder if they wish to have access to rodenticides will be forced to achieve a qualification (the same qualification as everyone else), or contract out the work to a certified professional such as those represented by a member of the Pest Management Alliance.
It is clear that the professional user sector is well placed to benefit from stewardship. Most technicians have a relevant qualification, or can obtain the CRRU-approved safe use of rodenticides qualification either in person or online. If users in other sectors do not come up to the standard by December 2017 then professional pest controllers will be ready to take on this lucrative work. We have training, qualifications and CPD in place. The Stewardship regime has proven to be a great opportunity to raise standards within our sector.
Point of sale guidelines will be coming in soon, and things will change rapidly, with strict controls to prevent the sale of professional use only rodenticides to non-certificated users. This will be brought in by the end of March 2016.
Many have called for licencing, and with no appetite from government to do this, setting a high standard is the next best thing. For those who do not meet this standard, the future looks bleak. Also, if residue levels of rodenticides in non-target species do not decrease, HSE will have to consider tightening up their user criteria, and we feel confident that trained and competent pest controllers will be the last to lose these anticoagulant products. There are no assurances over what might happen. However, our sector is the ‘high water mark’. We have complied with everything set by HSE, and have a strong position going forward.
Are we happy with the deal we have secured for our collective memberships? Broadly, yes. We now have a standard within our sector to which all users must aspire. This also makes life much more difficult for the ‘cowboys’ and while licencing is a remote possibility, this provides a strong benchmark against which to measure professional rodent control.
About the Alliance
The Pest Management Alliance consists of representatives from the British Pest Control Association, the CIEH National Pest Advisory Panel, and the National Pest Technicians Association. The purpose of the Pest Management Alliance is to gather, consolidate and focus the views of the professional Pest Control Industry on specific key issues of concern, and then relay and promote those views to the main Centres of Influence in government and/or associated agencies.
For more information, see us at PestTech.