Metaldehyde ban to benefit drinking water quality

Water companies will face a much reduced risk of metaldehyde contaminating drinking water sources from spring 2020, following a decision from environment secretary, Michael Gove, on 19 December to ban outdoor use of the slug-control pesticide across the country.

The prohibition follows advice from the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides and the Health and Safety Executive that metaldehyde poses an unacceptable risk to birds and mammals.

The outdoor use of the pesticide will be phased out over 18 months to give growers time to adjust – for instance by sowing seed deeper or using alternatives such as pesticides containing ferric phosphate which pose lower risk to wildlife. It will be legal to sell metaldehyde products for outdoor use for the next six months, with use of the products then allowed for a further 12 months.

The ban should particularly benefit Anglian Water whose catchment area is arable intensive which has led to a long- standing challenge to manage metaldehyde risk.