Agriculture and the environment


Pesticides are primarily used in the agriculture sector and but also in forestry, horticulture, amenity areas, the natural environment and in home gardens. They play an important role in farming and the provision of food, maintenance of infrastructure, and protection of natural landscapes. However it is essential that the benefits pesticides provide are balanced with the potential environment and health risks that may be associated with their use.

Register your business

If your work involves pesticides you must comply with the Official Controls (Plant Protection Products) Regulations 2020, including registering as a user of professional PPPs

Pesticide regulations

HSE is the UK regulator for pesticides. Read more on the HSE website.

As of January 2021, an independent pesticides regulatory regime is in operation in Great Britain (Scotland, England and Wales). 

All relevant EU law in relation to the regulation of pesticides in force on 31 December 2020 was retained in GB law.

Pesticide authorisation process

Pesticide products authorised for use in Scotland are tightly regulated and are subject to thorough analysis and testing by HSE before authorisation to demonstrate that the product is effective and poses no unacceptable risks to people, animals or the environment.

EU and UK legislation follows the ‘hazard-based’ approach to pesticide regulation. This follows the principle that if an active substance possesses intrinsically hazardous characteristics, it is considered too dangerous to be used safely and should not be authorised.

HSE maintains a number of databases on pesticide products for use in the UK, including information on current professional and amateur products.

National action plan for the sustainable use of pesticides

The UK National Action Plan sets out a shared UK ambition to explore a range of options on future use of pesticides and increase uptake of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to minimise the risks and impacts of pesticides to human health and the environment.

Integrated pest management

Integrated pest management (IPM) is a whole farm approach to managing the land, maximising the efficiency of production whilst minimising negative effects on the environment. Reduced reliance on pesticides can be achieved by minimising pest, weed and disease risks through:

  • tailored and efficient use of chemical inputs
  • appropriate cultural controls such as crop rotations and the use of resistant varieties
  • physical and mechanical controls including the use of nets, mulches and mechanical weeding
  • enhancement of wildlife habitats to encourage biodiversity and beneficial organisms that provide biological control
  • monitoring of crops for pests, weeds and diseases and the use of forecasts and thresholds for treatment

An IPM planning tool for Scottish Growers is on the Plant Health Centre website

Completing an IPM plan will help land managers make the best possible and most sustainable use of all available methods for controlling pests, weeds and diseases.

Code of practice for using plant protection products in Scotland

The code of practice (2007) reflects our policy to reduce to the lowest possible level the effect of pesticide use on people, wildlife, plants and the environment while making sure pests, diseases, and weeds are effectively controlled.

It is due to be updated to take account of new pesticide legislation.

Cross compliance

As a condition of receiving support payments, land managers have to comply with a range of requirements known as cross compliance. The correct use of pesticides is part of cross compliance and breaches of the requirements could result in payments being reduced. Detailed information is available from Rural Payments and Services.

Scotland’s Pesticide Survey Unit

Information on the use of pesticides in Scotland is collected and published annually by the Pesticide Survey Unit at SASA (Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture)

Pesticides and the water environment

The Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 (CAR) place controls on the storage of pesticides and their use in the proximity of the water environment. Full guidance on the rules within CAR is on the Farming and Water Scotland website

Amenity forum

The Amenity forum is the independent body bringing together professional organisations with an involvement in weed, pest and disease control in the amenity horticulture sector. The organisation was formed as a key action to support the UK Voluntary Initiative, an industry-led project agreed with Government, with a primary aim to promote and encourage proper and responsible use of pesticides and integrated methods to control pests, weeds and diseases.

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