Operator standards will be a critical aspect of the incoming directive, which will involve each member state drawing up a national action plan on reducing pesticide use.
According to BALI technical director Neil Huck, all bodies are having to look at their weed control methods. He said he has been contacted by organisations, including Transport for London, keen to pursue alternative methods. "Everyone is struggling," he explained.
The need to reduce pesticides is a factor that has been grasped more strongly by some local authorities than others, said Quadron Services head of tendering operations Jo Daughtry. "There is more written these days and most have some clause in the contract about pesticide reduction. There is greater awareness of the legislation."
Pesticides reduction has been a key factor in Complete Weed Control (CWC) retaining its contract with Vale of Glamorgan Council in Wales. Technical director Alan Abel said: "Councils are ever more stringent in requirements when contracting out weed management."
The firm uses its Weed-IT computerised infra-red spray system to ensure herbicide is only used where needed. CWC said it can reduce the amount of herbicide applied by up to 80 per cent. Abel added: "Authorities ask how you are going to reduce the amount of herbicide you apply. Operator qualifications are an increasingly important aspect of service delivery."
Huck said better training and qualifications will be essential. A meeting will be held on 27 November at NPTC in Stoneleigh Park to examine developing training that meets the directive's requirements.