Every government agency has a specific competence
Government agencies have statutory tasks and competences. For the Ctgb, this involves the authorisation of plant protection products and biocidal products. According to European frameworks, the Ctgb assesses whether substances and products – when used according to the instructions – are effective and safe for humans, animals and the environment. Depending on the outcome of that risk assessment, it decides whether to authorise them or not. Other government agencies have other tasks and competences. Sometimes those tasks and competencies can clash; it is unclear which task and competency weighs most, or this leads to a lack of clarity or to misunderstanding. This happened last year when the court in Assen ruled against an environmental permit in the vicinity of a Natura 2000 area. The court ruled that the province had provided insufficient substantiation in issuing the environmental permit on the basis of its duties and competence. According to the ruling, the province should have collected objective data on plant protection products to exclude significant effects on the nearby Natura 2000 site. However, that ruling was interpreted in the media and elsewhere as if the court had banned the use of plant protection products.
That was not the case. The court pointed out to the provincial authority that it had inadequately implemented a competence arising from its duties, and did not refer to the task or competence of the Ctgb at all. This situation is comparable to the annual motor vehicle inspection. That is a task and competence of the corresponding agency (the RDW). The inspection determines whether a motor vehicle meets the safety and environmental regulations and will be allowed on Dutch roads for another year. Following this approval, the driver of the vehicle must still adhere to the traffic rules and obey the speed limit. And these rules and speed limits can differ depending on the situation. You can drive faster on the motorway than in built-up areas. But that has nothing to do with the vehicle safety inspection.
The Ctgb has a similar role in agriculture and horticulture. The risk assessment is comparable to the mandatory safety inspection for motor vehicles. If the Ctgb authorises a plant protection product, this means that it is safe for the birds, mammals, insects, plants, bees, soil organisms and aquatic organisms on, or immediately adjacent to, an agricultural parcel that has been treated. A decision on whether or not to grant an environmental permit is based on other legislation and considerations, while taking other aspects into account, including local circumstances. And that task and competency lies with the provincial authority.
Secretary/Director of the Ctgb