Approximately two years ago, as a result of a discussion at the UKLCA annual conference, I suggested to Professor John Moverley of the Amenity Forum (AF) that we needed a lawn care group within the AF that represented the views of the lawn care industry. AF already represents the wider amenity industry at Government level, including local authorities, professional turf (golf, football stadia, etc),industrial weed control, etc, i.e. anyone using weed killers, fungicides, etc in a professional capacity in amenity. The UKLCA represents independent companies only, however, the group also needed to include representation from the franchise lawn care companies. Prof John agreed and the AF Lawn Care Group was formed with representation from the UKLCA (me) and from the two largest franchise companies (Greenthumb and Greensleeves). Together this group representsover 95% of the UK lawn care industry.
This group’s first job was to gather data on the lawn care industry – number of lawns treated, area treated, number of people employed, GDP produced by the sector, etc. This data is important for any discussion withGovernment as it enables an understanding of the impact of any decisions made. Once that was done, Prof John was then able to use that data in the key discussions.
All this is against a background where legislation is changing and the group’s role here is to feed back and to help in ensuring that any new legislation is fit for the lawn care industry. There is new legislation arriving with still more to come. The implementation does vary within the countries of the United Kingdom, so I recommend that you check your individual country regulations to be sure. I will focus on how they are being introduced in England in the following comments.
You may have heard of the Official Controls(Plant Protection Products) Regulations (OCR) 2020 which required all manufacturers, sellers and distributors of professional plant protection products to register their activity on the official Government Register by September last year. This includes all professional distributors and it also includes online sellers of professional products. Those not on the register will be breaking the law and can face enforcement action.
There is a requirement for all users of professional products to complete the official Government Register by June of this year, so if you are a professional user, then I recommend that you fill in this register as time is running out. Again those not registered may face enforcement action. The link to the register is as follows: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/professional-plant-protection-products-ppps-register-as-a-user. This register also covers gardeners who are using amateur products in a professional capacity, so if you are a gardener who charges customers for putting down a weed and feed product, then you have to register as well.
There is another piece of legislation in the pipeline called the National Action Plan (Sustainable use of pesticides) or NAP, sorry for all the acronyms but it is what it is. The NAP is a very wide ranging piece of legislation as described in the Government summary “The plan covers the next five years and aims to minimise the risks and impacts of pesticides to human health and the environment, while ensuring pests and pesticide resistance are managed effectively.”
What does it mean for those in the lawn care industry? Well, it is only a draft at the moment and the publication has been delayed several times now, (something about the Government having other things to deal with at the moment), but it is expected to be published in the autumn. One of the expected outcomes is that professional users of weed killers, etc will be expected to demonstrate they have achieved a professional standard. This is above the usual Pa1/Pa6a test for using knapsack sprayers. Currently, the only professional standard available is BASIS Lawn Assured which is why I, and the UKLCA, have been banging the drum for the last few years encouraging members and other professional lawn care companies to join the scheme. Again, this will potentially be a legal requirement and if this is the case there will be a scrabble to get registered. My recommendation is that if you are a professional user, (including gardeners using amateur products), then get BASIS Lawn Assured as soon as you can. It is quite a straightforward process and will prepare you for the upcoming legislation. It is also a badge of professionalism that you can use to promote your business.
Lastly, as a bit of an advert , if you join the UKLCA there are many members available who can help you through the processes I have described above. The cost to join the UKLCA is very reasonable at £25 per month and members also get much reduced rates when applying for BASIS Lawn Assured. The networking benefits are great and it is worth joining for that alone.