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Pond barley straw is not a biocide, confirms HSE

Chopped barley straw made into pouches for ponds is no longer covered by the Biocides Regulation in the UK, according to the Health and Safety Executive.

The Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association used an exemption made for chopped lavender flowers bagged to repel moths to argue the case for barley straw, which is added to garden ponds to tackle algae.

However, the exemption does not cover extracts so OATA is still in talks with the HSE to see how these can continue to be sold.

In a letter to its EU counterparts and the EU Commission the HSE states:

“Having consulted the EU Commission on how best to proceed, the UK considers that the recent decision on lavender blossom makes it clear that untreated barley straw is neither a biocidal product nor a treated article, on the same grounds as those set out for lavender blossom, and so is not in scope of the Biocidal Products Regulation. The UK will rely on this precedent to support its position. We have written in these terms to the other Member States setting out the UK position, copying it to the EU Commission.

“These developments and the scenario above do not however extend to barley straw extract, as this does not meet the above conditions for unprocessed barley straw. Anyone wishing to support barley straw extract as an active substance or biocidal product will still need to provide the required data for evaluation.”

OATA’s new chief executive Dominic Whitmee says the organisation will continue to work with the HSE to ensure extracts can also be sold.

“This is a testament to former chief executive Keith’s tenacious work that companies can still produce bags and retailers can sell them without fear of prosecution” said Dominic.

“Despite the UK’s decision to leave the EU, we will still work towards getting extract products excluded from the Regulation. We believe extract is based on the same process that chopped barley straw works on when added to water so we’ll continue to make these arguments to the HSE.”

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