Slug pellet 'switch offer' relaunched after ban overturn

The government's decision to ban metaldehyde slug pellet products was declared unlawful in summer
The government's decision to ban metaldehyde slug pellet products was declared unlawful in summer

A slug pellet 'switch offer' for farmers has been relaunched following the surprise decision by the High Court to overturn the ban on metaldehyde-based pellets.

The metaldehyde slug pellet ban, a decision spearheaded by Michael Gove while he was Defra Secretary, was overturned following a legal challenge in July.

North West water company United Utilities has now re-launched its 'switch offer' for farmers in its River Dee and Llangollen Canal catchments.

Farmers will be offered money-off ferric phosphate slug pellets and the chance to swap traditional pellets for the more environmentally-friendly alternative.



The ban was originally made by former Mr Gove, in December 2018, in response to studies that highlighted that metaldehyde posed an ‘unacceptable’ risk to birds and mammals.

This decision was overturned this summer after a legal challenge from a metaldehyde manufacturer.



Dr Kate Snow, from United Utilities, said the firm was 'surprised' that the ban was overturned.

“During heavy rainfall it can run off farmland and flow through field drains into watercourses and has proved to be difficult and costly to remove from raw water.

“In response we’ve decided to revive our slug pellet switch offer, to continue to promote the use of a more environmentally-friendly, but equally effective, pesticide.”

Ferric phosphate pellets are slightly more costly, and United Utilities are offering farmers 50 percent off the price and, if they’ve already bought metaldehyde, the switch will be made at no extra cost.

Dr Snow added: “The restrictions on use of metaldehyde pellets also means many farmers have to use two different types of slug control pesticide.

“Switching to ferric phosphate not only helps us safeguard raw water quality, it also simplifies slug pellet applications with just one product being used,” she said.

There are strict guidelines to follow when using metaldehyde, which include no pellets being allowed to fall within a minimum of 10 metres of any field boundary or watercourse and not using them when drains are flowing or heavy rain is forecast.