Apart from its danger to pets and wildlife – Metaldehyde is the pesticide that most often causes risks to drinking water sources, especially in the autumn. If metaldehyde enters watercourses it can potentially threaten drinking water quality.
In July following a challenge by Chiltern Chemicals (a large Metaldehyde slug pellet manufacturer) Defra said “the government has decided to withdraw and review the decision made on 19th December 2018 to restrict the sale (from 30th June 2019) and use of metaldehyde products(from 30th June 2020) following concerns raised about the decision-making process”
They added “We will retake the decision as swiftly as possible, taking account of the procedural points raised. Our priority is to protect people and the environment, and all decisions on pesticides are always based on the best available science,”
The High Court order takes the status of metaldehyde back to that of before December 19th 2018. The order confirms that the applications for product re-authorisation remain outstanding and that Defra is required to decide afresh whether to grant re-authorisation for the products or to revoke the existing authorisations, in accordance with Article 46 of the EC Regulation.
Whilst the outcome means that sale and distribution of metaldehyde products will now expire on 31 December 2020, we eagerly await Defra’s review. We also wait to see the short term practical outcome, with further comments also expected from the Health and Safety Executive/Chemical Regulations Division.
We believe most consumers and retailers prefer natural non chemical slug control products that will protect plants from slugs without posing a risk to nature or the wider environment.