On 23rd January 2023, the Home Office laid the Control of Explosives Precursors and Poisons Regulations 2023 to further tighten the controls in place for explosives precursors and poisons to prevent the illicit use of these substances. A full consultation – including with sectors affected by the proposed regulations – was undertaken before the regulations were laid. A summary of the consultation responses was published in Annex A of the impact assessment which was laid alongside the regulations: The Control of Explosives Precursors and Poisons Regulations 2023 (legislation.gov.uk)
From 1st October, ammonium nitrate above 16% nitrogen content will be a regulated explosives precursor under the Poisons Act 1972. Ammonium nitrate has a history of being used in improvised explosive devices in the UK and overseas.
The decision to regulate ammonium nitrate above 16% nitrogen content represents a balance between ensuring that members of the general public are able to use ammonium nitrate-based products for legitimate purposes, while restricting access to higher-strength ammonium nitrate which has the potential to be misused. There is evidence of individuals trying to obtain substances in the Poisons Act by passing themselves off as businesses and bypassing the regulations.
Businesses and professional users, including farmers, will not require a licence to be able to buy or use ammonium nitrate above 16% nitrogen content. However, the 2023 regulations require suppliers to take additional steps to verify the legitimacy of the professional user or business they are selling a regulated substance to.
Further guidance on selling regulated and reportable substances can be found here: Supplying explosives precursors and poisons - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)