Salmon and Trout Association challenges NFU Scotland on sheep dip risk

Britain’s leading game angling organisation, the Salmon and Trout
Association, has denounced the National Farmers Union of Scotland

Britain’s leading game angling organisation, the Salmon and Trout Association, has denounced the National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFUS) for downplaying the impact of Cypermethrin sheep dip on the country’s watercourses. NFUS is calling for the ban on the sale of Cypermethrin, which was imposed throughout the UK by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate in February, to be lifted in Scotland. In recent press reports the chairman of NFUS’s livestock committee has stated that Scotland has a “sound track record” in the use of Cypermethrin and has thus “minimised and prevented environmental problems” in comparison with the situation south of the border. The Salmon and Trout Association contends that this does not tally with the facts.

According to official data, over one third of the Cypermethrin pollution incidents recorded in Britain in 2002 and 2003 occurred in Scotland. A significant increase in pollution incidents south of the border from 2004 reflects the introduction of targeted monitoring in Wales; no such monitoring has been undertaken in Scotland. SEPA admits that its monitoring of watercourses is limited “due to the costs and practicalities of sampling on a wider scale”.

Colin Innes, chairman of the Salmon and Trout Association in Scotland, commented: “It is wrong for the NFUS to suggest that problems with the use of Cypermethrin in Scotland are minimal. Without proper monitoring it is simply impossible to determine the extent of pollution incidents. It is worth noting that the most serious incident that we are aware of in 2005, when invertebrate life in ten kilometres of the upper section of an Ayrshire river was wiped out, was not discovered through SEPA monitoring”.

Mr Innes continued: “We are adamant that the ban on the marketing and sale of Cypermethrin should continue. Furthermore we believe that the use of this highly toxic chemical should now be outlawed. The suggestion by the NFUS that Scotland’s farmers are somehow a special case and that the existing restrictions on Cypermethrin should be lifted north of the border is illogical. There can be no justification for lower environmental standards in Scotland than exist in the rest of the UK. In this context it is bizarre that the Scottish Executive is apparently supporting the NFUS’s initiative”.