The pest control in the U,K is broadly speaking controlled by four groups of legislation.

  • FEPA and COPR.
  • Health and Safety in the work place including COSHH.
  • Legislation which may relate to pest control, such as that effecting public health and waste disposal
  • Pest specific legislation.

Food and Environmental Protection Act 1985 (FEPA) and the Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986 (COPR)

Both pieces of legislation aim to protect the health of people animals and plants by establishing which products may be used, who may use them and how they may be used safely. They are both in the process of being superceeded by the Biocidal Products Regulations 2003.

Under COPR only approved pesticides may be used.Those using pesticides must comply with the product label and be trained and competent in the safe application of the product. Reasonable precautions should be made to protect peoples health and the environment and in particular water courses. A list approved pesticides can be found at www.hse.gov.uk.


Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. (and regulations under it)

Places general duties on employees and employers with regard to the health, safety and welfare of people at work and states that “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practical, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees”.Employees are duty bound to provide a safe working environment, methods and systems and provide information, training and supervision.

Section 7 requires employees to take reasonable care of their own health and safety and others who may be affected bty their activities.

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

These regulations place a duty on employers and the self-employed to carry out suitable and sufficient assessment to determine the risk to health and safety of employees and others who may be affected by the work activity.This includes the provision of safe methods of work and suitable information, supervision and training .

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002

These regulations place duties on employers to protect employees and other people from exposure to any substance hazardous to health.Regulation 6 states that before any hazardous substance is used, an assessment must be carried out which is a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risk created by that work and the steps that need to be taken to meet the requirements of these regulations.

Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992

These regulations set out the principles for choosing, providing, maintaining and using P.P.E. and also require that the P.P.E is suitable for the person using it and the risks it protects against.

Work at height Regulations 2005

Confined Spaces Regulations

The Provision and use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)

These regulations state that when using any work equipment, risks to Health and Safety must be minimised and equipment must:

  • Meet and be maintained to the relevant CE standards
  • Be used only for its intended purpose
  • Be used only by a trained person and have factory installed safety features

Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992

These regulations aim to reduce the risk of personal injury when loads are lifted carried or moved by human effort.

Electricity at Work Regulations 1989

These regulations require that precautions are taken to prevent the risk of injury or death from the use of electricity in the work place.

Food Safety Act 1990

    This Act provides the framework for all food legislation in Great Britain. Section 14 effectively makes it an offence to sell substandard food. Food is unsafe if it is considered to be injurious to health or unfit for human consumption.

    Food Hygiene Regulations 2006

    Regulation 6 states that where a food business operator fails to comply with hygiene regulations an improvement order may be served.

    Regulation 8 states that an emergency prohibition notice may be served where there is an imminent risk to health. This may be caused by an infestation of rats, mice ,cockroaches or other vermin serious enough to result in actual or significant risk of contamination.

    Regulation 11 provides the defence of “due diligence” in any proceedings for an offence, if the person charged is able to prove that all reasonable precautions were taken and due diligence exercised to avoid the offence being committed.

    Environmental Protection Act 1990 (as amended)

    Under this act it is an offence to keep or dispose of controlled waste in a way likely to pollute the environment or harm people.
    Part 2 States that poisonous substances (such as pesticides) shall be disposed of such that they do not pose a threat to people or the environment. People who produce waste must ensure it is only passed to authorised persons who can transport, dispose of safely or recycle such waste.

    Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005(as amended 2009)

    These regualtions bring into force the EC Hazardous Waste Directive. They make it necessary for those who produce hazardous waste in sufficient quantities to register with the Environmental Agency and send records every 3 months.

    Pest specific Legislation

    Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended)

    This is the main legal protection of wildlife in Great Britain.

    Schedule 1 part (i) is largely concerned with protection of wild birds, making it an offence to kill, injure or take any wild bird or damage or be in possession of their nests or eggs.

    Schedule 2 part (ii) is the most important part as far as control of bird pests is concerned as it lists which birds may be taken by authorised persons. Under a General License these birds may be controlled if it is in the interest of public health and safety or air safety or to prevent damage to crops, livestock, forests, fisheries, water flora and fauna.

    Section 5 Prohibits the use of bows, cross-bows self locking snares and explosives (except fire arms).

    Pest bird species include:
    Canada Goose, Crow, Collared Dove, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Herring Gull, Jackdaw, Jay, Magpie, Feral Pigeon, Wood Pigeon, Rook, House Sparrow and Starling.

    Section 9 gives special protection to certain wild animals including all species of bat,water voles, snakes, common frogs and toads.

    The Protection of Animals Act 1911 (and amendments)

    This act gives general protection to domestic and wild animals.Under this act, animal traps must be checked at least once per day and live traps must contain food and water for the trapped animal.

    Public Health Act 1961

    Gives Local Authorities the power to deal with nuisance or damage by doves and feral pigeons

    Pest Act 1954

    Under this act only certain types of spring trap are approved for certain species. Traps must be used in accordance with their conditions of approval.These are listed in the Spring Traps Approval order 2012 issued by Natural England.

    Destructive Imported Animals Act 1932

    Releasing non indigenous animals such as Grey Squirrel and Mink into the wild is prohibited.

    The Wild Mammals (Protection act) 1996

    Makes it illegal to inflict unnecessary suffering on wild animals If an injured or caught animal must be culled, it must be done quickly and humanely.

    Animal Welfare Act 2006

    Makes it illegal to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal under our control

    Sec 4 states that if you are responsible for an animal and the animal is suffering, you are accountable for that suffering and third party checks of traps or glue boards does not absolve you of that responsibility.

    The Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949

    This Act places a duty on Local Authorities to ensure as far as reasonably practical that a district is kept free from rats and mice. It requires Local Authorities to destroy rats and mice on their land and enforce the duties on owners and occupiers.