Blackstone wins pesticide battle with Government

Blackstone Chambers has won a long-running ­battle with the Government over the use of pesticides near residential homes near Chichester, West Sussex.

The set, representing campaigner ;Georgina Downs, showed there was solid evidence that residents had suffered harm.

Mr Justice Collins heard that residents exposed to pesticide-spraying had ­suffered from ill-health and blistering, with Downs ­herself displaying the symptoms from the age of 11.

Downs collected evidence from other residents reporting health problems including cancer, Parkinson’s disease, ME and asthma, which they believe could be linked to crop-spraying.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural ;Affairs ;(Defra), argued that its control of pesticides was “reasonable, logical and lawful”.

Collins J, however, said that the Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986 ­stated that beekeepers must be given 48 hours’ notice if pesticides harmful to bees were to be used. He added: “It is difficult to see why ­residents should be in a worse position [than bees].”

He also ruled that Defra had contravened a 1991 EC directive on pesticide safety.

East ;London-based Foresters partner Joe ­Mensah-Dankwah instructed Michael Fordham QC and Emma Dixon of Blackstone to represent Downs. The Treasury Solicitor instructed Robert Jay QC and Vikram Sachdeva of 39 Essex Street for Defra.