The debate on neonics continues, and there remains a dispute within the farming and wildlife communities about their impact. There are concerns that the absence of neonics may be having a detrimental effect on bees because of the use of alternatives. 

This is a difficult issue, and although I have supported the current ban, and believed that the last evidence appeared quite convincing, I have to be open to new evidence, as ultimately any final decision must be based upon that. 

You may be aware of the work the Government is doing to protect bees through its National Pollinator Strategy. Minimising risks from pesticides is just one component of this 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. 

Under the Strategy, organisations such as Network Rail, the 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.   The Government has 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 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.