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Scottish Environment LINK - The voice of Scotland's environment movement




A programme of measures aimed at minimising the environmental impacts of pesticides in the UK was established in 2001. The Voluntary Initiative (VI), as this programme has been named, originally comprised 27 projects that were proposed by the crop protection industry as an alternative to pesticides tax; in March 2005, there were a total of 43 projects UK wide, of which fifteen had been completed and a further 28 were still in progress and on schedule.

The different strands of the VI address research, training, awareness raising and technology transfer, all with the broad aim of helping farmers, advisers and operators to protect water quality and enhance biodiversity. The projects include

  • awareness raising of biodiversity issues with the crop protection industry;
  • provision of Environmental Information Sheets for each pesticide product;
  • development and promotion of Crop Protection Management Plans throughout the UK ;
  • establishment of an independent generic sprayer testing scheme.

By the end of March 2005 all major targets for the year were achieved. The national VI target is to maintain and increase the downward trend of detection levels above 0.1 ppb of those nine pesticides most commonly found in untreated water with the objective of achieving a 30% reduction by 2006. A new longer term national target of a 50% reduction in exceedences has been proposed.

The main VI Farmer Participation Activities and their uptake in the UK are:

  • Crop Protection management Plans (CPMP); a CPMP will set clear management objectives and identify specific issues that need to be addressed as well as the actions needed including alternatives to using pesticides; in the year to March 2005, 1.365 million ha of cropped land in the UK were covered by CPMPs.
  • National Sprayer Testing Scheme: in the year to March 2005 50% of sprayed area in the UK was treated using sprayers tested under the scheme. The target for the final year is 80%.
  • National Register of Sprayer Operators: a central register of certificated sprayer operators using continuing professional development as a means of ensuring ongoing training; UK membership in March 2005 was 20,000.

The Voluntary Initiative is a UK wide programme, introduced in 2001 and initially running until 2006, which was proposed by the crop protection industry as an alternative to a pesticide tax. The measures under this programme are aimed at minimising the environmental impacts of pesticides.