Devon County Council to decide ban on bee-harming pesticides

Tuesday 12th April 2016

Thousands of Devon residents ask council to make the right choice for bees

A giant bee will hand in a 3,750 strong petition to Devon County Council leader John Hart, urging Devon County Council to ban neonicotinoid pesticides on council-owned land, at lunchtime today (Tuesday). Photos available on request. 

Devon County Council is being urged to seize the opportunity to show real leadership on the environment by adopting a proposal to ban pesticides linked to bee decline on council land, when its Cabinet discusses the issue on Wednesday 13 April.

Over three and a half thousand (3,750) Devon residents, and a coalition of environmental groups, including the Devon Wildlife Trust, Devon WI, Buglife South West and Friends of the Earth are all calling on the council to ban the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on council-owned land in order to help protect bees and other pollinators.

Last month a key council committee, the Place Scrutiny Committee, called on Devon County Council to protect Britain’s bees – and “be strongly advised to take all necessary steps where possible to prohibit the use of Neonicotinoids on land under the control or ownership of the County Council including existing and new tenants of the County Farms Estate.”

The issue will be discussed by the Cabinet on Wednesday.

Mike Birkin, Friends of the Earth South West campaigner said:
“The scientific evidence of the threat posed to bees and other pollinators by harmful neonicotinoid pesticides is now stronger than ever. Devon now has the opportunity to set the standard for other councils on protecting our much loved bees by protecting them from these toxic pesticides on council-owned parks, gardens and countryside.”

Harry Barton, chief executive of the Devon Wildlife Trust said:
"Evidence of the damage that neonics are causing wildlife is growing all the time. Birds, insects and countless rare species are under enough pressure from climate change and habitat loss already. If we want to see bees in our gardens and swallows swooping and diving in our skies each spring, then the choice is simple. Stop using these destructive chemicals. Devon County Council has produced a useful Pollinators Action Plan. We support this. But we feel it needs to be bolstered by a commitment to move away from neonics. This is a really tough problem, and it needs really tough action if we want to save our bees, our insects and our birds."

Julie Ayre, Chairman of Devon Federation of Women's Institutes said:
“Reducing the use of pesticides is very important and we fully support calls for Devon County Council to ban the use of bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides on council land. But evidence from our SOS Honey Bees campaign demonstrates that the causes of bee decline are multifaceted. Tackling loss of habitat, disease, and climate change is also critical to reverse the decline we are seeing and ensure the ong term future of bees.”

Andrew Whitehouse, Buglife South West Manager said:
“Bees, butterflies, hoverflies and other pollinating insects are essential to a healthy environment; their hard work pollinates flowers, creating the seeds and fruits that feed us and other animals, and that sustain colour in the countryside.  But our pollinators are in trouble, if not cared for their populations can become damaged, diminished and dysfunctional. By banning the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, Devon County Council will be showing great leadership in helping our beleaguered pollinators.”

Neonicotinoid pesticides: 

  • Britain’s bees are under threat and pesticides are one of the factors behind this decline, along with habitat loss and climate change.
  • Three neonicotinoid pesticides have been restricted across Europe since 2013 after scientists found they posed a “high acute risk” to honeybees. However they can be used on some crops such as wheat and the UK Government can allow temporary exemptions to the restrictions – as happened in the East of England last year.