Airports raise concerns about birds following pesticide withdrawal

The withdrawal of chlorpyrifos from sale could have unforeseen repercussions for aircraft safety, industry experts warned at a recent Amenity Forum event.

Insect control may pose safety issues for aircraft. Image: Pixabay
Insect control may pose safety issues for aircraft. Image: Pixabay

The chemical is an active ingredient in pesticide products which have been used to control pests on grass areas around runways, in particular leatherjackets and chafers. It was withdrawn from amenity use in August last year, leaving turf managers with no chemical means for controlling the insects.

The concern is that without such control options, more birds may start feeding on the pests, in turn impacting on aircraft safety.

The matter is being actively discussed and solutions being considered, including possibly seeking emergency authorisation whilst alternative approaches become available.

On Friday the Health and Safety Executive announced almost all chlorpyrifos use would be prohibited from 1 April, including for agricultural purposes. Only drench treatment for brassica seedlings via gantry sprayers is still allowed.

Aircraft safety was just one of the questions raised at the event held in Essex. Presentations included a policy update, the need for sprayer testing, requirements for education and training and how to take an integrated approach to weed, pest and disease control.

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