The outdoor use of metaldehyde is set to be banned in Great Britain from the end of March 2022.

The pesticide is used to control slugs on farms and in gardens and is to be banned in order to better protect wildlife and the environment.

The decision takes into account advice from the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides and the Health and Safety Executive about the risks that metaldehyde poses to birds and mammals.  

Farming minister Victoria Prentis said: “The scientific evidence is clear - the risks metaldehyde poses to the environment and to wildlife are too great.

“The government is committed to building back greener from Coronavirus and the restrictions on the use of metaldehyde are another step towards building a cleaner and greener country for the next generation.”

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Metaldehyde will be phased out by March 31, 2022 to give growers and gardeners appropriate time to switch to alternative slug control measures.

It will be legal to sell metaldehyde products until March 31, 2021 with use of the products then allowed for a further 12 months.

Gardeners are told that small quantities of product for gardens should not be disposed of at home but can be disposed of through local authority waste facilities.

While slugs can cause significant damage to farmers’ crops and gardeners’ plants, the government says that pesticides containing ferric phosphate can provide effective control without carrying the same risks to wildlife as metaldehyde slug pellets.

Alternative methods of pest control also include cultural techniques like planting slug resistant crop varieties, selectively timing irrigation and harvest and sowing seeds more deeply into the soil.