NFU Cymru calls for urgent review of Asulox refusal


NFU Cymru has asked the Welsh Government to urgently review a decision to refuse an application for an important bracken herbicide.

Welsh Government has accepted the recommendation from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to refuse an application for an emergency authorisation for the use of Asulox to control bracken in Wales in 2023.

The application refusal in Wales mirrors the decision taken in Scotland, however an emergency authorisation has been granted in England to allow the use of Asulox to control bracken.

Extremely disappointed

NFU Cymru Policy Adviser Dafydd Jarrett said: “We are extremely disappointed that Welsh Government has accepted the HSE’s recommendation to refuse an emergency authorisation for the use of Asulox in Wales despite the concerns previously raised by NFU Cymru and industry colleagues. We recognise that use of the chemical did drop off in 2022, but there were several mitigating factors for this reduction in use which have been detailed to Welsh Government officials. We believe this decision is a huge backward step in the control of bracken in Wales – an invasive plant which can pose a significant threat to biodiversity, drinking water quality, agriculture, public health and is highly poisonous to farm livestock.

“While we note Welsh Government’s comments on the HSE position, NFU Cymru fails to understand what further evidence has been considered on possible adverse effects in the 2023 emergency authorisation, when the application on use was the same as the previous 10 applications which have been granted.

Environmental benefits

“There are clear environmental benefits to controlling bracken. The refusal of the Asulox application could be considered counterintuitive to Welsh Government’s own ambitions to plant more trees in Wales, given that in many of these areas bracken must be controlled for effective establishment. It is regrettable that an important tool has now been totally lost to farmers with no alternative chemical treatment possible and no aerial control of bracken. While we acknowledge the Minister’s reference to mechanical bracken control options still being available under Glastir this year, these control methods are less effective and, worse still, not feasible on Wales’ rocky slopes where bracken still grows and poses too high a safety risk for operators.

NFU Cymru asks

“NFU Cymru is asking Welsh Government for immediate sight of the HSE evidence on which this decision appears to be based, particularly given that Defra has allowed emergency authorisation in England.

“We are asking Welsh Government to urgently review this decision on Asulox to ensure Welsh farmers still have use of this important management tool.”

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