The National Farmers’ Union Wales (NFU Cymru) is calling on the Welsh government to “urgently review” the decision not to authorise the use of asulox for bracken control in Wales this year.

The herbicide was not authorised for use this season in Wales or Scotland because of the risks it poses to the environment and human health. However, it has been authorised for use in England.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) refused the application, but the decision was accepted by both Scottish and Welsh governments.

“We are extremely disappointed that Welsh government has accepted the HSE’s recommendation to refuse an emergency authorisation for the use of Asulox in Wales,” NFU Cymru policy adviser, Dafydd Jarrett said.

“We believe this decision is a huge backward step in the control of bracken in Wales – an invasive plant which can pose a significant threat to biodiversity, drinking water quality, agriculture, public health and is highly poisonous to farm livestock.”

Jarrett said while the union notes the Welsh government’s comments on the HSE position, it doesn’t understand why the herbicide would be refused this year when the application was the same as the previous ten, which had been granted.

“NFU Cymru is asking Welsh government for immediate sight of the HSE evidence on which this decision appears to be based, particularly given that Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) has allowed emergency authorisation in England,” he added.

“We are asking Welsh government to urgently review this decision on Asulox to ensure Welsh farmers still have use of this important management tool.”

President of NFU Scotland, Martin Kennedy, issued a similar call last week. Speaking on the asulox decision at the Royal Highland Show, he said: “We need this decision to be reviewed urgently.

“In the absence of any other viable alternative, the consequences of the ban, which will consign some of Scotland’s hillside to monocultures of tick-laden nature-depleted bracken, has ramifications for farmers, crofters, rural communities, human health, and biodiversity.”