England now stands alone in allowing the use of herbicide Asulox after Northern Ireland joined Scotland and Wales in refusing to authorise deployment of the chemical for bracken control.

For the past 10 years Asulox has been approved annually as part of an emergency authorisation process on behalf of the UK administrations by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

READ MORE: Asulox banned for use this season because of health risks

However, this year the Scottish Government state that for the first time, the HSE considers the use of the herbicide does not meet the legislative requirements for emergency authorisation.

In a letter to the Bracken Control Group, the HSE said it “does not consider that the benefit of addressing the danger outweighs the potential for harm, nor that there are still special circumstances to support the proposed use.

“We are, therefore, refusing the application in Northern Ireland and it is now closed.”

READ MORE: Scottish Government play down dangers of Asulox ban

The letter continues: “Our assessment of the application for the use of Asulox to control bracken identified a growing number of concerns and risks which now, taken together, in the opinion of HSE, outweigh the benefits of the proposed use “

The decision in Scotland drew stinging criticism from former Rural Affairs Secretary Fergus Ewing.