Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Spraying pesticides

Spraying herbicides and pesticides

What you must do

Have a certificate of competence

You may need a qualification called a certificate of competence if you use agricultural pesticides.

Read section 2 of the code for using plant protection products to find out if you need a certificate of competence.

Scottish Government: Code of Practice for Using Plant Protection Products

In Scotland you must make sure that your pesticide application equipment is tested when five years old. Rucksacks and handheld sprayers are exempt. From 26 November 2015 Grandfather Rights expire (they may have applied if you spray on your own or your employers land) and pesticide spraying must always be carried out by someone with the appropriate certificate.

Scottish Government: Changes to pesticide rules

Notify the relevant authorities before aerial spraying

You must contact your environmental regulator at least 72 hours before you start aerial spraying if you are applying pesticide to land that is within 250 metres of a watercourse.

You must contact the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) , Scottish Natural Heritage at least 72 hours before you spray pesticide to land that is protected as, or is within 1,500m of:

  • a local nature reserve
  • a national nature reserve
  • a marine nature reserve
  • a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) or area of special scientific interest (ASSI)
  • a Natura 2000 site
  • a wildlife refuge.

NIEA: Designated areas
Scottish Natural Heritage: Sitelink

Notify local people before spraying

Before you spray pesticide, you must also notify:

  • local bee-keeper groups at least 48 hours before application
  • the chief environmental health officer for the area, or in Northern Ireland the district council, 24 to 48 hours before application
  • occupants or owners of property within 25 metres of the area to be treated, 24 to 48 hours before application
  • the person in charge of any school, hospital or other institution within 150 metres of the flight path, 24 to 48 hours before application.

Requirements for spraying near watercourses

You must have approval from your environmental regulator before using herbicides on aquatic weeds or weeds on the banks of watercourses such as rivers, ditches, lakes or lochs.

In Scotland:

Pesticide must not be applied within 1m of any river, burn, ditch, wetland, loch, transitional or coastal water unless:

  • the pesticide is approved for aquatic use and are applied according to the approval
  • they are applied for the control of invasive non-native species (GBR 23g)
  • no pesticide enters the water environment
  • the ground is not frozen, snow covered or waterlogged
  • it is not applied to impermeable surfaces that drain into water unless measures are put in place to prevent runoff entering the water.

Contact your environmental regulator

For certain pesticides that you apply using ground crop sprayers or broadcast air-assisted sprayers you need to maintain a 5m buffer strip between the area you spray and watercourses. You will need to fill in a Local Environmental Risk Assessment for Pesticides (LERAP) form for your spray records, to show what you have sprayed and the size of the buffer strip. If you want to reduce the width of this strip you will also need to carry out and record the results of a LERAP.

CRD: Local Environmental Risk Assessment for Pesticides

The HSE provides a database of pesticides (includes herbicides, fungicides, molluscicides etc.) where you can find:

  • if a product is still approved
  • approved products for specific purposes
  • details of application rates and methods of delivery
  • alternative products for a range of applications.

and a wide range of other information relating to pesticide use.

HSE: Pesticides Monitor Search

Good practice

Check the codes of good agricultural practice

Northern Ireland: Code of Agricultural Practice for the Prevention of pollution of Water, Air and Soil
Scotland: Prevention of Environmental Pollution from Agricultural Activities PEPFAA code 2005
Scotland: PEPFAA DOs and DON'Ts guide

SEE ALSO: Pesticides and biocides

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NIEA - Apply online

SEPA - Application forms