Highlands & Islands

NFU Scotland in bracken treatment call to UK government

Sheep
Image caption Bracken is blamed for spreading ticks to livestock

NFU Scotland is to ask the UK government to allow landowners to continue using a chemical after it has been banned by the European Union.

In Scotland, Asulam is used to control bracken, which is blamed for spreading ticks and harming farmland.

The NFUS argues the herbicide's ban is connected to its use on crops elsewhere in Europe.

On Tuesday, the farmers' union lost an appeal to an EU standing committee for its continued use.

The sale and supply of the chemical, which is marketed as Asulox, is set to end on 31 December 2011 and stocks of the product must be used by 31 December 2012.

The NFUS is to ask the UK government to consider issuing a national emergency authorisation for its use.

If successful, this may allow Asulam to be available for use for a few months annually but the conditions of its use would be limited, the farmers' union said.

The Scottish Crofting Federation said the ban of what it said was the most cost effective method for bracken control would worsen the risk of devastating spring wildfires.

Earlier this year, Highland Liberal Democrat councillor Robbie Rowantree added his voice to calls for the herbicide to remain available for tackling bracken.

Mr Rowantree, who is head gamekeeper on Gordonbush Estate, near Brora, said bracken spores were also believed to pose a risk to human health.

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