Thank you for your email regarding a ban of neonicotinoids.
I agree with you that bees and other pollinators play a vital role in the security of our food supply and the quality of our environment. Neonicotinoids are banned for use on flowering crops.
There are rules providing for the use of normally restricted products to be authorised in emergency situations to protect crops. If emergency authorisation is granted, this does not mean that the ban has been lifted: the facility to allow strictly controlled, targeted uses of pesticides under an emergency authorisation is an essential feature of precautionary bans.
These decisions are taken based on recommendations from the Expert Committee on Pesticides, the independent body of scientists that advises the Government. It takes all environmental factors into account, including the effects of using greater quantities of less effective alternative pesticides.
Minimising risks from pesticides is just one component of the National Pollinator Strategy, whose purpose is to lay out plans to improve our understanding of the abundance, diversity and role of pollinators, and identify any additional actions that will be need to be taken. It also sets out new work to be done immediately, building on longer-term initiatives that were already under way.
Significant advances over the draft Strategy include raising the profile of existing initiatives to conserve and create good quality wild flower meadows, and minimising risks from pesticides. Organisations such as Network Rail, Highways Agency and the National Trust have agreed that railway embankments, motorway embankments and forests will be used to create bee and insect friendly habitats.
It also introduced the first ever wild pollinator and farm wildlife package, which makes more funding made available to farmers and landowners who take steps to protect pollinators. In its first year of its operation over half of the mid-tier applications to the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, which channels these payments, included this package so I am confident it will make a real difference.
As part of the preparation for exiting the EU, Ministers are considering future arrangements for pesticides. Their highest priority will continue to be the protection of people and the environment and, taking the advice of the independent Expert Committee on Pesticides, they will base these decisions on a careful scientific assessment of the risks.
While we remain in the EU the UK will continue to meet its obligations under EU law, including restrictions on neonicotinoids. The current plan is to transport current EU legislation into UK law. It is also worth pointing out that the priorities, when dishing out Government support to farmers, will be maintaining food security, good animal welfare standards and good care of the natural environment.
Thank you once again for contacting me, please do not hesitate to get in contact with me if you require any further information.
Derek Thomas MP
For St Ives, West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.