Monday, 9 December 2019

Bracken Briefings 2020

An application for an eighth, consecutive Emergency Authorisation to cover the use of Asulam for bracken control in the 2020 season was submitted in July 2019.  A draft approval was issued in November 2019, and the final, unchanged approval was issued in May 2020.  However, the approval contains some restrictions that will make it difficult or impossible to use Asulam for bracken control this year.

There are two restrictions causing concern:
  • application of Asulam by helicopter only - application from hand-held or ground-based equipment will not be authorised.
  • for aerial spraying, the required buffer zone against surface water bodies will be increased from 50m to 90m; this will increase the area of bracken that cannot be sprayed significantly. 
A series of briefings is being developed to set out the information provided with the EA Application and the concerns being expressed by the bracken control industry to the restrictions contained in the draft approval.

Currently the following briefings are available from the website:
  1. Overview of Bracken Control
  2. Regulation of the use of Asulam
  3. Highlights from the Emergency Authorisation Application for 2020 
  4. Area of Bracken Controlled
    • the threat from bracken expansion and 
    • the increasing threat from tick-borne diseases.
  5. Bracken - a growing risk - 2
    • Tick control options
    • Future developments on tick control
  6. The Impact of Bracken Control on Tick Activity
    • The linkage between bracken cover and tick populations.
    • Reducing the amount cover, by bracken control, reduces the tick population
  7. Bracken Encroachment into Peatland
    • Reports on the monitoring of bracken spread into peatland habitat
    • The rate of encroachment is increasing
  8. Negative Impacts of Bracken on Human and Animal Health
    • Sets out the four main impacts associated with bracken.
    • Summarises the key tick-borne diseases.

The restrictions included in the Approval will have a significant impact on the commercial activity of the aerial and ground-based contractors who provide a bracken control service.  The restrictions will also impact on the landowners and land managers who would seek to control bracken to protect their land from invasive bracken and the business enterprises that rely on bracken free land.

There is concern that the restrictions will make it difficult or impossible for holders of grant agreements to complete the bracken control work they have committed to carrying out.

A briefing and questionnaire is being circulated to capture views; it is available online.

An additional application for an Emergency Authorisation was submitted in April 2020 and this provides information that was not available when the original application was submitted in July 2019.  This application argues for the reinstatement of ground-based application of Asulam and for the buffer zone to protect surface bodies to revert to 50m.

Please use the comment function below to provide your views about any of the issues covered in this blog post or in the briefings.  Alternatively, feedback can be provided using the contact form on the BCG website.

Revised: 28 May 2020