The ban on metaldehyde slug pellets has been overturned by the High Court, meaning they will be back on the market for growers immediately. CPM reports.

In December 2018, the decision was made by former Defra secretary, Michael Gove, to ban metaldehyde products on farm from 2020. However, in a turn of events this week the High Court has approved an order to formally overturn the ban with immediate effect.

“Metaldehyde is back on the market and we’ve reverted to where we were eight months ago,” confirmed Philip Tavener of Chiltern Farm Chemicals, which took the legal action to bring Michael Gove’s decision before the High Court.

“The sell-out and use-up periods previously put in place no longer apply; it’s business as usual.  Chiltern is ensuring that supplies of metaldehyde slug pellets will be available with immediate effect from their normal distribution channels.”

Unlawful decision

According to Philip, the legal basis of Defra’s withdrawal decision required Mr Gove to form his own view on the impact of the metaldehyde products on non-target species, but he did not do so.

“A few days before a hearing was due to take place in the High Court, the Government conceded that its decision-making process was flawed. The decision was unlawful.”

Chiltern Farm Chemicals, one of the largest suppliers of molluscicides in the UK, has disputed the environmental impact of its products on non-target species.

“We have been working with the industry for over 10 years, as part of the Metaldehyde Stewardship Group (MSG), to steward the responsible use of these products,” said Philip.

“In 2017 an enhanced MSG stewardship programme, that had been approved by officials at the CRD (Chemicals Regulation Division), was launched and introduced new buffer zone requirements, promoted reduced usage and the adoption of Integrated Pest Management.”

Reliable treatment

Retaining metaldehyde in the market removes the industry’s dependency on a single slug control solution and provides farmers and householders with an important, reliable and trusted treatment for controlling the arable and garden sector’s most damaging pest, he added.

Taking the metaldehyde status back to pre-December 2018, the Court’s order confirms that the applications for product re-authorisation remain outstanding.

Defra is therefore required to decide afresh as to whether to grant re-authorisation for the products or to revoke the existing authorisations, in accordance with Article 46 of the EC Regulation.