Estate owners and hill farmers who feared the loss of their main weapon against bracken have been told not to be all “doom and gloom” as there was still a good chance that Europe would allow emergency use of the chemical Asulam.
This weedkiller, which is about the only method of controlling bracken, was due to be removed from the market this year following a European ban imposed because of health fears linked to its use in spinach crops in southern Europe.
But yesterday Simon Thorp, of the Heather Trust and the co-ordinator of the Bracken Control Group, said he was “quite optimistic” that the chemical would be around for use in 2013.
He said his group had received a great deal of high-level support for retaining Asulam, including both the Scottish and UK governments.
To allow it to be used in the future they would be applying for emergency authorisation from the European Union advisory committee on pesticides on 13 November.
A report on its use and effectiveness in controlling bracken, one of the major threats to natural plant life in the Scottish Highlands is being prepared for that committee by Alistair Leake of the Game and Wildlife Conservancy Trust.
The good news is that, if this committee allows its use under their powers, this would not just be for a one-year period. Thanks to a relaxation in the scheme, the permission would stay in place until such time as the manufacturer of Asulam, United Phosphorus(UP), can get it through the pesticide registration scheme.
“There used to be a caveat that the emergency authorisation could only be used once, but that has now been relaxed so we should be able to use it until we get Asulam registered for bracken control,” said Thorp.
This year the weather has made it difficult for bracken control, with Thorp describing the success of the control programme as “patchy” with reports ranging from excellent control to there being a shortfall between what was planned and what actually was possible due to the weather.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Monday 27 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: South
Temperature: 7 C to 14 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: East