Pollinator strategy lacks action on pesticides, critics warn

5th November 2014


Related Topics

Related tags

  • Property ,
  • Chemicals ,
  • Construction ,
  • Agriculture ,
  • Ecosystems

Author

Tim Taylor

Plans to halt the decline of pollinators in the UK have been criticised by campaigners for lack of strong action on pesticides.

The government’s pollinator strategy, published by Defra yesterday, proposes wide-ranging action to support insect pollinators such as bees, hoverflies, butterflies, beetles, midges and moths. Defra says it recognises that these species are in decline due to habitat loss, pests and diseases, climate change and the use of some pesticides.

The strategy includes actions such as:

  • introducing a monitoring programme for pollinators and reviewing it at regular intervals;
  • advising land managers and the public on how to support pollinators, for example, by planting pollinator-friendly flowers and mowing grass less often;
  • running workshops on managing urban pollinators for local authorities, developers, planners and local nature partnerships, and integrating advice into planning guidance and local biodiversity initiatives; and
  • promoting opportunities for farmers to support pollinators through new measures under the EU common agricultural policy and voluntary actions.

Environment secretary Elizabeth Truss said: “Not everyone can become a beekeeper, but everyone from major landowners to window-box gardeners can play their part in boosting pollinators.”

Network Rail, Highways Agency, the National Trust and other organisation that manage more than 800,000 hectares of land in England have signed up to the strategy, and pledged to take actions to support pollinators.

Defra is setting up bee hives on the roof of its building in central London. It also says that more funding will be made available to farmers and landowners who take steps to protect pollinators through the new countryside stewardship scheme.

Insect campaign group Buglife said the strategy was “the first rung for bee recovery” but that it did not go far enough. The strategy does not commit to improving the testing regime for new pesticides or to tighten the restrictions on neonicotinoid use, the charity pointed out.

Matt Shardlow, chief executive of Buglife said: “Recent history has shown that we are still authorising insecticides that kill bees and other wildlife, there must be more thorough testing so that licenced pesticides are indeed environmentally safe.”

Friends of the Earth’s senior nature campaigner Paul de Zylva said that the strategy would make a significant contribution to safeguarding Britain’s bees. “But ministers must still get tougher on pesticides and do more to boost bee-friendly farming as 70% of our land is farmed,” he added.

In 2013, the European commission placed a two-year moratorium on use of three neonicotinoid pesticides, imidacloprid, clothianidin and TMX. It will review the ban next year.

The UK government had originally resisted the ban, a move that was heavily criticised by campaigners. MPs on the environmental audit committee said that the department had allowed economic considerations to influence its decision not to support the ban.

But Defra’s response to the consultation on its pollinator strategy reveals that it has left open the possibility of challenging the ban.

Committee chair Joan Walley MP said that the environment department was right to propose developing more field-trial data, but added: “I believe Defra should acknowledge that the balance of evidence available from lab tests and other field-trials already clearly demonstrates the need for the ban on the precautionary principle.”


Transform articles

National climate plans could see fossil fuel demand peak by 2025

Demand for fossil fuels will peak by 2025 if all national net-zero pledges are implemented in full and on time, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has forecast.

15th October 2021

Read more

The Green Homes Grant is set to deliver only a fraction of the jobs and improvements intended, leading to calls for more involvement from local authorities in future schemes.

23rd September 2021

Read more

COVID-19 recovery packages have largely focused on protecting, rather than transforming, existing industries, and have been a “lost opportunity” for speeding up the global energy transition.

23rd September 2021

Read more

Half of the world's 40 largest listed oil and gas companies will have to slash their production by at least 50% by the 2030s to align with the goals of the Paris Agreement, new analysis has found.

9th September 2021

Read more

None of England’s water and sewerage companies achieved all environmental expectations for the period 2015 to 2020, the Environment Agency has revealed. These targets included the reduction of total pollution incidents by at least one-third compared with 2012, and for incident self-reporting to be at least 75%.

30th July 2021

Read more

The UK’s pipeline for renewable energy projects could mitigate 90% of job losses caused by COVID-19 and help deliver the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda. That is according to a recent report from consultancy EY-Parthenon, which outlines how the UK’s £108bn “visible pipeline” of investible renewable energy projects could create 625,000 jobs.

30th July 2021

Read more

Billions of people worldwide have been unable to access safe drinking water and sanitation in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a progress report from the World Health Organisation focusing on the UN’s sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6) – to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030”.

30th July 2021

Read more

The oil and gas industry is set to burn through its allocated carbon budget 13 years early unless decisive action is taken immediately, new analysis has found.

22nd July 2021

Read more

The UK will no longer use unabated coal to generate electricity from October 2024, one year earlier than originally planned, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has announced.

2nd July 2021

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert