To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his policy is on the use of Diquat to control weed growth in watercourses; and if he will make a statement.
Along with all other pesticides approved for use in the UK, Diquat has been subject to the review programme initiated under the Plant Protection Products Directive 91/414/EEC. This ensures that risk assessments are updated in the light of the most recent scientific information. Diquat was approved under the directive, but aquatic use was not allowed because of the risks to fish, invertebrates and non-target plants. This restriction took effect in June 2004. As an interim measure, an emergency authorisation for the aquatic use of Diquat in the UK was granted in 2005 and in 2006 to enable the control of weeds. Emergency authorisations can be granted where there is an unforeseeable danger that cannot be controlled by other means.
In 2006, Ministers concluded that no further emergency authorisations would be granted until the Advisory Committee on Pesticides was satisfied by evidence that risk mitigation measures would render the aquatic use of Diquat acceptable.
Earlier this year, the Committee considered an application for a further emergency authorisation. It concluded that it was not appropriate to recommend a further emergency approval this year. The Committee noted that no new data were available proving acceptable risk. Furthermore, there was no evidence that alternative methods of control had been tried.
If the Government receive new evidence which demonstrates that this herbicide can be used without unacceptable risks to the aquatic environment, we will ask the Advisory Committee to review it and will consider any resulting advice.