The Westcountry Rivers Trust is giving farms in the River Fowey catchment a safe and confidential way to get rid of banned pesticides. The amnesty, which will run from 1st to 31st May, will allow farmers to get rid of pesticides, which now carry penalties, in a safe way and without attracting enforcement from regulators.

The project aims to reduce levels of pollutants in the river Fowey, while also giving farmers a free, confidential way of disposing of banned and out of date pesticides, including isoproturon, trifluralin and atrazine. They will be removed and incinerated by a commercial waste disposal firm working with the Westcountry Rivers Trust.

Run through Upstream Thinking, which is funded by South West Water, the amnesty is available to farmers based in the River Fowey catchment, from the source of the river on Bodmin Moor to Restormel. The River Fowey provides the majority of Cornwall’s water, so the project could have an impact on water quality across the county.

Westcountry Rivers Trust Land & Fisheries Officer Matt Healey said: “Old and obsolete products stacked away in the back of a shed can degrade and leak over time, seeping into the ground and ultimately could cause them to enter the water system. It can be very difficult to identify or know how to dispose of very old products, so they tend to just remain in a store – we want to help safely remove this risk completely.

“Just a few drops of pesticide can be detected in water nearly 20 miles away, so releasing these chemicals into the environment can have a major impact on wildlife as well as increasing water treatment costs.”

The Westcountry Rivers Trust delivers a range of free and confidential land management advice to farmers to reduce costs, increase efficiency and reduce pollutants. Through projects like Upstream Thinking it is also working with farmers and landowners to improve land management in ways that will benefit the rivers.

River Fowey Catchment Manager Giles Rickard added: “We work with a diverse range of farms across the catchment – from livestock farms on Bodmin moor to the arable and mixed farmers lower down the catchment. The way this land is managed has a huge impact on our rivers and this amnesty is one way we can stop pesticides entering the water system. The aim of this amnesty is to give farmers an easy, safe and confidential way of getting rid of the pesticides that they can no longer use.”

Any farmers in the River Fowey catchment who want confidential help with disposing of banned pesticides can contact Matt Healey or Giles Rickard on 01579 372140 / [email protected] by 31st May.