04/02/2021 - As you may have seen, I did not support Amendment 24 at last week’s debate on the Environment Bill. This is because pesticides are already tightly controlled to protect bees and other pollinators. The Bill will allow the Government to lower these protections only under emergency circumstances where diseases or pests cannot be controlled in any other way.
These emergency authorisations provide short term availability of a pesticide if it is demonstrated that this addresses a danger which cannot be contained by any other reasonable means, that the use will be limited and controlled and that the necessary protection of people and of the environment can be achieved.
These kind of emergency powers were already available to use before in the EU, so the Bill is not reducing existing protections. In fact, 10 EU countries have granted them since 2018.
The UK is a world leader in developing greener farming practices and upholds the highest standards of environmental and health protection. The Government is currently consulting on the draft National Action Plan for the Sustainable use of Pesticides which sets out plans to further minimise the risks and impacts of pesticides to human health and the environment.
I hope I can reassure you that protecting bees and other pollinators is a priority for this Government. That is why the National Pollinator Strategy was developed; a 10 year plan which sets out how Government, conservation groups, farmers, beekeepers and researchers can work together to protect and encourage pollinators in England.