Joy for Cumbria moorland owners as bracken herbicide ban is lifted - for now (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Joy for Cumbria moorland owners as bracken herbicide ban is lifted - for now
MOORLAND owners in Cumbria have welcomed a temporary triumph following anger over an EU ban on the only effective bracken control herbicide.
The ruling that came into force on January 1 has been given a short UK reprieve, following intensive campaigning by The Bracken Control Group, backed by the Moorland Association.
Following new advice from the government’s Advisory Committee on Pesticides, Asulam can be bought and stored from May 20 and vital spraying of the chemical can go-ahead from July 1 until the end of the bracken growing season.
The decision, rubber stamped by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, allows a further use-up period ending on October 31.
Cumbria-based Moorland Association chairman Robert Benson said members were delighted to have a season’s breathing space.
“It gives us time to further galvanise efforts to safeguard Asulam’s long-term use in protecting vast tracts of precious moorland from massive bracken infestation.
“Without this safe, selective, government-approved herbicide, bracken would change the face of Britain’s countryside, devastating wildlife and destroying grouse moor management. Around £100 million a year would be lost to the UK rural economy.
“Three quarters of the world’s heather moorland is found in the UK with nearly 200,000 acres in Cumbria. Without Asulam, 50 per cent would already be gone.”
Simon Thorp, Bracken Control Group co-ordinator, said the long-term future for Asulam was still in the balance.
“On the one hand this is a victory, on the other we must wait to see if Brussels will re-register the herbicide and that will not happen until 2016 at the earliest. We will have to re-apply for an emergency authorisation again next year and it will be illegal to store asulam during 2013, before and after the agreed dates. The battle over bracken has only temporarily been won.”
Designed to protect the food chain from applications on spinach, moorland owners said the ban would devastate Britain’s rural economy. They argue the breeding of Britain’s unique wild red grouse would be badly hit, along with the grouse shooting industry, worth £67.7 million in England and £23.3 million in Scotland.