This week we had positive news when Environment Minister Richard Benyon announced that plans are being drawn up to remove products containing the dangerous insecticide Chlorpyrifos from domestic sale.
Mr Benyon was responding to strong representations from the Angling Trust following last months’ devastating pollution of all invertebrate life along a 15 kms stretch of the Kennet by a tiny amount of Chlorpyrifos which entered the river via the combined sewerage system.
The incident on the Kennet was the latest in a series of scares involving chlorpyrifos, which is regularly used on lawns and golf courses and for treating termites, leatherjackets and frit flies. The same chemical was responsible for wiping out insect life on a large stretch of the River Roding in 1985, the River Wey in 2002 and 2003 and led to a significant number of fish being killed on the River Ouse in Sussex in 2001.
Following the incident on the Kennet, people were advised not to allow water from a stretch between Marlborough and Hungerford to come into contact with their skin. In America the US Environment Protection Agency has placed limits on its domestic use and the chemical was banned outright in Singapore for use in termite control in 2009.
We have been pushing for much tougher controls on how this stuff is sold. This is a product that is supposed be for use by professionals only yet it can be bought on-line by any Tom, Dick or Harry who will then be in possession of an environmental time bomb. It is plain wrong that chlorpyrifos is freely available to everybody for without proper disposal methods it can cause a huge amount of damage to rivers and streams and the wildlife they support.
We are also calling on the government to improve the facilities for the disposal of dangerous chemicals. Up and down the country people will have bottles and tins of all manner of pesticides which, if rinsed out into the drains can be fatal to insects and the birds and fish which feed off them.
The Angling Trust campaign has been picked up by the national media including on BBC 5 Live, BBC South, the Daily Mail, the Times and the Telegraph.
This all just goes to show the benefits of having a unified representative body for all anglers in the country. None of the angling organisations of the past would have jumped on this issue and got action so quickly. We’ve done the same with cormorants, hydropower, angling bans, the Severn barrage, the water framework directive, water company secrecy, poaching, a review of the bass MLS, and countless other issues. Isn’t it time you joined us? Membership is growing steadily, and as a result we’re able to do steadily more for the benefit of all anglers. Get on board today!