Proposal to licence the release of augmentative arthropod biological control agents outside of glasshouses and into other protected structures in England

Defra are seeking views on whether Defra should licence the release of non-native augmentative arthropod biological control agents in protected structures such as polytunnels in England.

In England and Wales, under section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, non-native animals are not allowed to be released into the environment. An option exists, under the same Act, to issue licenses for the release of otherwise prohibited biological control agents to control plant pests and weeds.

For augmentative arthropod biological control agents, Defra currently licenses their release in glasshouses, but Defra does not license their release in other protected structures or outdoors. The one exception to this is the mite Amblyseius swirskii, which has recently been given the approval to be released in polytunnels. The other augmentative arthropod biological control agents that Defra currently licenses are Amblydromalus limonicus, Amblyseius degenerans, Amblyseius (Transeius) montdorensis, Delphastus catalinae, Eretmocerus eremicus, and Neoseiulus californicus.

A paper has been put together by Defra in collaboration with Natural England, Natural Resource Wales, and Scotland, providing justification for changing the current policy and allowing the release of non-native augmentative arthropod biological control agents outside of glasshouses. Please see the attached paper.

For further information on how to comment on the proposed change in policy, please see the attachedĀ letter.

The deadline for responses is 19th August 2022.

For more information:

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