Published: Friday, 14 November 2008, 2:21PM An environmental campaigner has won a landmark legal victory in a long-running battle over pesticides. The High Court ruled the Government failed to comply with its obligations under a European directive to protect residents and communities from possible harmful exposure to toxic chemicals during crop spraying. Georgina Downs, who lives on the edge of farm fields near Chichester, West Sussex, launched her independent UK Pesticides Campaign in 2001. Mr Justice Collins allowed her application for a judicial review into crop spraying, saying she had produced "solid evidence" that local residents had suffered harm. The judge described how Miss Downs was 11 when first exposed to pesticide spraying "and began to suffer from ill-health, in particular flu-like symptoms, sore throat, blistering and other problems". She accused the Government of failing to protect rural residents "who are repeatedly exposed to mixtures of pesticides and other chemicals throughout every year, and in many cases, like mine, for decades". People were not given prior notification about what was to be sprayed near their homes and gardens, she complained. The judge noted that the 1986 Control of Pesticides Regulations stated beekeepers must be given 48 hours notice if pesticides harmful to bees were to be used. He said: "It is difficult to see why residents should be in a worse position." Mr Justice Collins said Hilary Benn, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Secretary, must rethink the way spraying is controlled and the risks to human health assessed. Defra had argued that its approach to the regulation and control of pesticides was "reasonable, logical and lawful in all the circumstances". Independent Television News Limited 2008.