Chichester resident Georgina Downs won a landmark legal battle against the government yesterday over the use of pesticides.
The high court ruled that Georgina Downs had provided "solid evidence" that those being exposed to chemicals used to spray crops had suffered harm.
The High Court Judge court stated that the government had failed to comply with the European directive designed to protect rural communities from exposure to the chemicals used in crop spraying.
Defra is now under instruction to review its policy and fully investigate the risks to those who are exposed. The defense had argued that its interpretation of the regulation and control of pesticides was "reasonable, logical and lawful".
Georgina Downs, who resides in the Chichester area on the edge of farmland had launched her environmental campaign in 2001 stated:
This is obviously a very significant and landmark ruling for the potentially millions of residents throughout the country who, like myself, live in the locality to pesticide sprayed fields.
The Government’s method of assessing the risks to public health from crop-spraying is based on the model of a ‘bystander’, in which it assumes that there will only be occasional, short-term exposure to the spray cloud at the time of the application only, from a single pass of a sprayer and to only one individual pesticide at any time.
The Judge has agreed with my long-standing charge that this bystander model does not and cannot address residents who are repeatedly exposed from various exposure factors and routes to mixtures of pesticides and other chemicals, throughout every year, and in many cases, like my own situation, for decades.
Obviously those living near pesticide sprayed fields will include vulnerable groups, such as babies, children, pregnant women, the elderly, people who are already ill and who may be taking medication, amongst other vulnerable groups where the health risks are increased.
Many Chichester residents live in rural locations and therefore could be affected by this issue, we congratulate Georgina on her hard work over the past 7 years bringing this matter to the attention of the courts and we have no doubt Miss Downs will continue her environmental campaigning in other areas. Her perseverance and the confidence she demonstrated when speaking in such a high profile case is commendable.