Government issues new guidance to pesticides sector in event of no-deal Brexit

The Government has issued businesses that produce pesticides with new guidance informing them that they will need to take different actions to be able to supply new pesticides to the UK and EU markets in the event of a no deal Brexit.

The guidance says that if the UK leaves the EU with a deal there will be an Implementation Period (IP) during which the UK will continue to follow decisions made by the EU on pesticide approvals and Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs).

The key difference for businesses is that, during the IP, the UK will not be able to act as a ‘leading authority’ under the EU regime and the HSE will be unable to conduct active substance or MRL evaluations.

Businesses who want to supply new pesticides to the UK and/or EU markets would need to make an application to a competent authority in an EU Member State.

The key change would be that if a business wishes to place a new pesticide on the EU market they will need to make a separate application to the EU, a process which could take up to three years.

The guidance tells manufacturers and users of Plant Protection Products (PPPs) on what action they need to take now to minimise any disruption once the UK leaves the EU.

If the UK leaves the EU on 29 March without a deal, pesticides currently available in the UK at the point of exit will continue to be so, allowing products to be marketed and used as normal.

Future PPP applications for use and renewals in the UK will continue to be considered by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), on behalf of the UK Government (Defra) and the devolved administrations. The format and data requirements for new applications will remain the same as they do now, minimising disruption for businesses.

The high scientific standard to which decisions on the use of pesticides are made will not change. We will continue to be guided by the most up-to-date scientific assessment of the risks to animals and the environment.

Farming Minister George Eustice said:

“Delivering a negotiated deal with the EU remains the Government’s top priority, but it is our job to responsibly ensure we are prepared for all scenarios, including no deal.”

“Whether the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal will not change the high scientific standard to which decisions on the use of pesticides are made. We will continue to be guided by the most up to date scientific assessment of the risks to people, animals and the environment.”

Highways England helps communities benefit from schemes to ease traffic delays

Guildford A3 average speed camera and junction widening plans revealed

Detailed drawings of the major improvement works to the A3 through Guildford have been revealed to the public.

The four-part improvements works include: the introduction of six average speed cameras on the northbound carriageway; the widening and extending of the University and Stoke Interchange slip roads; and the already-built ramp metering system for vehicles joining the A3 southbound at the Denis Interchange.

The scheme aims to relieve congestion, improve traffic flow and reduce tailbacks onto the main carriageway. Work is set to begin later this month and be completed by the summer.

Six average speed cameras will be placed along the northbound carriageway (Image: Highways England)

Six average speed cameras will be placed along the northbound carriageway (Image: Highways England)

Alessio Mancino, Highways England project manager for the scheme, spoke to Surrey Live about the impact of the work.

He said: “If you consider the hours, around 85,000 journeys are made per day on the A3. There is congestion on the slip roads and these improvements are addressing those concerns. It will be a massive improvement.

“We are planning to add 36 more spaces for vehicles on the Stoke Interchange – enlarging it by 1.3 times its current size.

“For the University Interchange, we are enlarging the starting capacity of the slip road by 2.6 times – this means an additional 33 vehicles will be able to be on the slip road. That takes 33 vehicles off the main A3 as well, which is important.”

Stoke Interchange improvements (Image: Highways England)

Stoke Interchange improvements (Image: Highways England)

With Guildford Borough Council making improvements to the Egerton Road roundabout, just off the A3, and Surrey County Council’s long-running changes to the Stoke Crossroads, it is hoped that journey times will be improved through these busy areas.

Mr Mancino said: “There will be some improvements to journey times. It is difficult to appreciate exactly how many minutes, but the conjunction of these schemes will have a massive impact.”

University Interchange improvements (Image: Highways England)

University Interchange improvements (Image: Highways England)

A spokesman for Highways England admitted that the A3 “was never designed” to accommodate 85,000 vehicles per day and that the authority had considered the impact of vehicles leaving it “right until the last minute” before cutting on to the University slip road.

For more articles like this, please visit Highways Industry News website.

Work starts on £2.6m natural flood management project in West Yorkshire

Work has started on a two year £2.6 million natural flood management project in West Yorkshire led by the National Trust to help protect homes and nurture wildlife devastated by the Boxing Day floods of 2015.

The aim is to reduce the risk of flooding to over 3,000 homes and businesses in Todmorden, Hebden Bridge, Marsden and surrounding areas. The investment will be one of the largest of its kind to date in England.


The work at Hardcastle Crags and Wessenden Valley, part of Marsden Moor, both cared for by the National Trust and Gorpley Reservoir, looked after by Yorkshire Water and the Woodland Trust, will use a combination of natural interventions to slow the flow of water along the Colne and Calder river catchments.

The plans include the planting of 151 hectares of new woodland at Gorpley Reservoir and in the Wessenden Valley, the restoration of 85 hectares of peat bogs, heath and Molinia (moor grass) and the construction of over 650 “leaky dams”.

The funding comes from £1.3 million Growth Deal funding from the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and £1.3 million either in funds or in-kind support from other partners including;

  • The Forestry Commission
  • Moors For The Future Partnership
  • Environment Agency
  • Woodland Trust
  • Yorkshire Water
  • Calderdale Council
  • other community groups

Over 3,000 metres of fascines (bundles of brushwood) will also be dug in to help stabilise stream banks and slopes, and new areas of land will be fenced for sustainable grazing by sheep and cattle.

The partners have been working together as part of the White Rose Forest Partnership. New woodlands planted will help grow the White Rose Forest, part of the new Northern Forest.

Increasing recognition of role natural flood management can play to reduce impacts of flooding

Craig Best, countryside manager for the National Trust in West Yorkshire commented:

“Traditional flood alleviation schemes have focused primarily on delivering hard infrastructures such as flood defence walls to protect the places where people live. However, there is increasing recognition of the role natural flood management can play to reduce the impacts of flooding on communities, while delivering key benefits for the natural environment.”

“Although natural techniques are not considered to be the single solution to reducing flood risk they are increasingly recognised as playing a significant role alongside more traditional approaches.”

“The combination of work we’re planning here of both new habitat creation and landscape restoration will, once things have become established, help absorb significant amounts of water to help slow the flow of water heading downstream towards towns and villages when we experience heavy rain.

The project is the second largest undertaken by the conservation charity after the success of a similar project on the Holnicote Estate in Somerset where similar interventions have eased flood risk downstream at the villages of Allerford, West Lynch and Bossington.

Ambitious project marks start of joint long-term partnership between National Trust and Yorkshire Water

The ambitious project also marks the start of a joint, long-term partnership, between the National Trust and Yorkshire Water.

Yorkshire Water Chief Executive Richard Flint said:

“The Calder Valley reacts extremely quickly to heavy rainfall and the resulting flooding can have a devastating impact on local people.

“In 2017 we launched a natural flood management pilot project at Gorpley. This, along with the planting of up to 200,000 trees as part of our commitment to plant one million trees over the next 10 years, will help to slow the flow of water, reducing the risk of flooding and make the area more resilient to climate change. However, we know that we can achieve so much more by working together with our partners and that’s why today’s announcement is such good news.

“By working together, we can join up our different projects and deliver landscape scale solutions that provide real benefit for people and the environment. This project also marks the start of an ambitious new partnership between Yorkshire Water and the National Trust and we’re looking forward to delivering more in partnership in the coming months and years.”

The Slow the Flow Calderdale group has been instrumental in setting up the early stages of this Natural Flood Management scheme at Hardcastle Crags with the National Trust.

Hundreds of volunteers who have given up 1000s of hours of their time have already built over 300 leaky dams throughout this area of outstanding natural beauty. Adrian Horton from Slow the Flow added:

“Without our volunteers none of this would have been possible and the benefits are now being felt along Hebden Water and into Hebden Bridge. Our forthcoming plans for developing and monitoring this unique scheme will prove to be a valuable asset and that natural flood management does have a place in reducing flood risk.”

Need to think holistically and look at how we slow the water down from source to sea

Mike Innerdale, director of the National Trust in the north said that as a major land owner and conservation charity  the organisation had a huge part to play, commenting:

“We are seeing more extreme weather across the UK, which is what we expect to see as a result of climate change, and have to come to terms with these challenges.

“When it comes to reducing the risk of flooding, we have to think holistically and look at how we slow the water down from source to sea. If we get the pieces of the jigsaw right by intervening and managing water together, we can make a difference. By trying to ‘slow, store and filter’ water before it ends up in the main rivers we can help reduce flood risk, improve water quality and potentially make water available during dry periods.”

The work will be monitored by the University of Leeds – key lessons will be taken forward to other projects, including the National Trust’s Riverlands programme, currently in development, which will bring communities and organisations together to protect local waters, habitats and wildlife across England and Wales.

Highways England announces £3m funding to improve junctions

Millions of pounds are set to be invested into improving two Worcester motorway junctions, including junction 4 of the M5 – the site of numerous accidents.

Highways England is putting nearly £3million into the scheme to improve junctions in the county to ease traffic delays, generate jobs and move plans to build nearly 2,000 homes a step closer.

The £2.68m funding boost, announced today (January 28), comes from the road authority’s Growth and Housing Fund budget.

This aims to help local communities unlock plans for future housing and to create better journey times as well as generate jobs.

The improvements, which include widening the A38 at junction 1 of the M42 and at M5 junction 4 to Lydiate Ash Road, are expected to significantly reduce queuing at peak times.

They are part of the wider A38 Bromsgrove Corridor scheme which, when complete, is expected to unlock a total of 1,946 homes.

It will also allow new offices and warehouse space to be built, creating employment opportunities in the local area.

The scheme is being developed by Worcestershire County Council in partnership with Bromsgrove District Council.

It is being funded by Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (WLEP), Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) and Highways England with further funding from the private sector.

Catherine Brookes, Highways England Midlands regional director, said: “Our roads are vital for the country and its economic success; they connect businesses and communities and support employment and new homes.

“All of our improvements will ultimately ensure our roads continue to improve journeys and unlock the potential for new jobs and homes.”

Worcestershire is receiving support from the fund that has already provided over £77 million to communities across the country, improving junctions and creating access to commercial land and new homes.

More details on the scheme will be shared by Worcestershire County Council over the coming months.

For more articles like this, please visit Highways Industry News website.

This is where Bristol Council will spend £1.7m on roads across the city

Live by a noisy road? Highways England might pay for sound insulation

No-deal Brexit – Government issues guidance for businesses that use chemicals as part of contingency planning

Innovation and integration will help prevent global water crises

In an Expert Focus article for Waterbriefing, David Smith, Executive Director at Stantec discusses how Innovation and integration will help prevent global water crises and how invention at the intersection of water, energy and agriculture is emerging as a hotspot and attracting growing investment. 

David Smith: Record temperatures hit the UK during the summer of 2018, putting huge pressure on the country’s natural resources and subsequently the agricultural sector. As a result, meat, vegetable and dairy prices are set to rise “at least” 5% in the coming months because of the widespread drought and crop failures across the country. As average temperatures rise on a global scale year-on-year, the way we view the relationship between water, energy and agriculture needs to evolve – an integrated approach is required.

Invention at the intersection of water, energy and agriculture is emerging as a hotspot and attracting growing investment. There is increasing demand for radical innovation, driven by widespread fears about the impacts of global warming on water supplies and food production. From the widespread adoption of ecosystem thinking, to machines as inventors, the future of innovation indicates rapid and radical change.

Over the next decade, systemic, accelerating and radical innovation will likely herald the emergence of an age of mass-automation, cross-border electronic trading in ideas and remote manufacturing. Entirely novel forms of socially inclusive innovation may emerge to create a new economy, focused on sustainability, well-being, quality of life and regeneration of the biosphere.

Breaking boundaries

As some of the boundaries between water, energy and agriculture begin to break down, innovative, system-wide strategies are beginning to be recognised as the principal solution to improving resilience and resource efficiency, and therefore economic performance.

For example, embracing precision agriculture gives the sector the opportunity to monitor, automate and manage water usage. It could make farming more intelligent using technology, ensuring the efficient use of resources, balancing the input/output scale, protecting it from the increasing risk of drought.

Re-inventing the way we use software will help improve yield and enable micro-management of farming, with the emergence of ‘enterprise software’ for agriculture. Other technological applications range from soil sensors and software to optimize fertilizer performance, to localized, micro weather forecasting, water use detectors and monitoring, to insect alerts, crop health systems and livestock management.

Challenges ahead

However, the real challenge will be improving water use. The annual rate of efficiency improvement in agricultural water use between 1990 and 2004 was just one percent across both rain-fed and irrigated areas and there is a long way to go. Were agriculture and industry to sustain this modest rate to 2030, improvements in water efficiency would address only 20 percent of the supply-demand gap, leaving a large deficit to be filled.

As recently as 2010, it was estimated that only US$10 billion was invested around the world in irrigation systems, ‘a surprisingly low figure given the importance of water for the agricultural sector (in comparison, the global market volume for bottled water in the same year was US$59 billion)’. We need more investment in integrated water and agriculture management solutions.

Clearly, ‘water’ and ‘agriculture’ cannot operate in separate, specialist domains as they have for many years. They must be seen in a new context – where water and agriculture, together with energy, integrate and intersect, and only ground-up systemic innovation will help us achieve this.

Djibouti recycles treated urban wastewater for irrigated agriculture

Horn of Africa is a region which is confronting the harsh effects of climate change. Deteriorating coastal and marine ecosystems, more frequent and intense flooding and drought, and mounting food insecurity are some of the challenges that have become an everyday reality. A Global Climate Change Alliance programme has been implemented in Djibouti which aims to simultaneously combat these issues. By recycling treated urban wastewater for irrigated agriculture, the project team has found a cost-effective way to generate substantial economic benefits for local communities.

Smart motorway works on M6 in Cheshire almost complete as added lanes open

Smart motorway works which have been ongoing in Cheshire for three years are finally on their way to being completed.

Highways England have reported that the stretch of the M6 between junctions 16 (Crewe) and 19 (Knutsford) has now opened its fourth lane on both carriageways.

New overhead electric signs have also been switched on to provide live information about journey times.

Construction on the motorway began in December 2015 and will finish in March this year following the opening of both added lanes.

The ongoing roadworks have caused headaches for many commuters – particularly considering the spate of traffic collisions that have occurred there in this week alone.

Prior to Christmas the speed limit in the area of roadworks between junctions 18 and 19 was increased to 60mph, which will remain in place while Highways completes testing the technology.

Meanwhile on the stretch of M6 motorway between junctions 16 and 18 a temporary speed limit of 50mph is expected to remain in place until the entire project is complete.

The smart motorway is expected to be fully in operation by the end of February.

Costs of the upgrading roadworks are estimated between £192 to £274 million, according to Highways England.

Smart motorways are controlled from a regional traffic control centre and work by using technology to manage traffic flow.

By monitoring the traffic centres can change signs and speed limits to help keep traffic flowing.

Highways England explain on the Gov website that smart motorways increase the capacity of the road without the expense of widening it.

For more articles like this, please visit Highways Industry News website.