I would like to keep you up to date in relation to maintaining the ban on neonicotinoid insecticides once Britain has left the European Union.

 

Bees and other pollinators play a vital role in the security of our food supply and the quality of our environment and I welcome the Government's work to understand and protect them, most recently through the National Pollinator Strategy.

 

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.  

As you are aware, this year there have been two separate sets of applications to use neonicotinoids on part of the country's oilseed rape crop, but in each case the Committee advised that the applications did not give sufficient assurances that the uses would be limited to those areas most in danger, nor that they would be controlled appropriately. Accordingly, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs followed the advice of the Committee and has declined these applications.

 

I can assure you that the Government continues to believe that decisions on the use of neonicotinoids should be based on the science and that restrictions on neonicotinoids will not be removed as long as the evidence shows that they should remain.

 

The Government will also continue to do everything it can to boost the vital habitats that bees and pollinators need, as well as encouraging everyone from major landowners to window-box gardeners to play their part.

 

You may like to read of the Bees' Needs campaign which was launched to raise public awareness here: http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/bees-needs