West Law Report

Chemical controls defective

Posted in Times Law Report by mrkooenglish on December 5, 2008

From The Times
December 1, 2008
Chemical controls defective

Queen’s Bench Division
Published December 1, 2008
Regina (Downs) v Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Before Mr Justice Collins
Judgment November 14, 2008

Crop spraying controls applied by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs did not properly comply with obligations imposed by the European Union.

Mr Justice Collins so held in the Queen’s Bench Division in granting the application of Georgina Downs, from near Chichester, for judicial review of the risk assessment by the secretary of state for permitting the use of agricultural pesticides.

The risk assessment breached EC Directive 91/414/EEC (OJ 1991 L30/1), set out in the Plant Protection Products Regulations (SI 2005 No 1435), because it did not have proper regard to relevant considerations including the possibility of risk to human health. Mr Michael Fordham, QC and Ms Emma Dixon for Ms Downs; Mr Robert Jay, QC and Mr Vikram Sachdeva for the secretary of state.

MR JUSTICE COLLINS said that the claimant had lived among fields which had been sprayed regularly for a number of years. Spray had inevitably drifted over the garden and entered the house via windows or doors if open, or through air vents. She began to suffer from ill-health, in particular flu like symptoms, sore throats, blistering in the mouth and throat and other problems.

There was solid evidence produced by the claimant that residents had suffered harm to their health, her own health was an example, or, at the very least, doubts had reasonably been raised as to the safety of pesticides under the regime which presently existed.

There had been, in his Lordship’s judgment, both a failure to have regard to material considerations and a failure to apply the Directive properly. It was relevant to note that the view that local effects need not be taken in to account, could not be justified. There was sufficient material to raise a real doubt in as to long-term harm in some cases.

His Lordship had no doubt that the crop-spraying controls did not comply with the obligations imposed by the Directive. Solicitors: Foresters, Walthamstow; Treasury Solicitor.

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