The Countryside Alliance has welcomed the announcement that a further Emergency Authorisation has been issued to allow the use of Asulam for bracken control during the 2017 growing season. A bracken control programme is an essential component of moorland management plans, and Asulam is the only selective control chemical that is authorised for use by helicopter, the most efficient and effective means of application. However, the use of Asulam products was banned by the EU in 2012, on the grounds that there was insufficient proof to show that it was safe to use on food products, and therefore an Emergency Authorisation has had to be submitted each year to enable its continued use for bracken control. Although full re-registration of the chemical has been applied for, this may not be effective until 2019.
Adrian Blackmore, Director of Shooting at the Countryside Alliance, said “Left unchecked, bracken will quickly shade out and destroy more ecologically valuable habitats, restricting the natural regeneration of other moorland plants, especially heather. It is poisonous to livestock, and provides a breeding ground for ticks which can pass on many diseases, including louping ill. This affects grouse and can result in a 79% mortality rate in infected birds. Bracken control is therefore of considerable importance to agriculture, biodiversity, landscape, recreation and sport, and consequently the rural economy in our uplands. The decision by the EU to ban Asulam was as a result of it having been tested in spinach; it had nothing to do with its safety when used for bracken control”.