Minister demands curb on pesticide sale after it wipes out insects on 10-mile stretch of river
Two teaspoons of an insecticide poured down a kitchen sink has been held responsible for wiping out insect life on a 10-mile stretch of one of the country’s prime fishing rivers.
3:42PM BST 26 Aug 2013
The incident, last month on the Kennet, caused ecological devastation on a stretch of river where anglers pay as much as £3,000 a season to fish.
Now Richard Benyon, an environment minister who is also the local MP, has asked his official to draw up curbs on the domestic sale of chlorpyrifos.
He has intervened after being approached by the Angling Trust.
“We have been pushing for regulations on how it is sold,” said Mark Lloyd, the Trust’s chief executive.
“It is freely available to everybody and without proper disposal it can cause a lot of damage.
“People will have tins which they then rinse out and even tiny amounts can be fatal to insects, which fish and birds feed off.
“In large enough quantities it can be fatal to fish as well.”
The incident on the Kennet was the latest in a series of scares involving the pesticide, which is regularly used on lawns and golf courses.
It was also held 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 Rover 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 use and the chemical was banned outright in Singapore for use in termite control in 2009.
Mr Benyon, who is the Conservative MP for Newbury, has asked officials to draw up measures to restrict its sale in Britain.
“I’m firmly on the side of those who want to make sure this never happens again.
“I think something as toxic as this should only be available to people with the qualifications to use it safely.
“I’ve asked Defra’s chemical regulations directorate to provide me with advice and I will act upon it.
“We want to make sure in the medium to the long term that we are protecting rivers like this from pollution incidents, whether they come agricultural use or personal use.
“Somebody could have just been cleaning out their garden, trying to clean algae out of their fishpond. We don’t know.”
Mr Benyon added: “In any river such an incident would cause me great concern but I am particularly upset that this should happen in my local river. I am really angered to hear of the devastating impacts for the ecology of the Kennet. This type of pollution is totally unacceptable”