28 April 2013
A new compromise plan by Scotland’s environment minister, Richard Lochhead, to agree - but not implement - a ban on the pesticides blamed for killing bees has been condemned as a “complete fudge” and a “spineless sell-out” that could help usher in “ecological Armageddon”.
Scientists, beekeepers, environmental groups, and politicians reacted angrily yesterday to a bid by the Cabinet Secretary for two years more research before deciding whether or not to restrict the use of nicotine-based nerve poisons used by farmers to kill insects and protect crops.
Lochhead has written to UK ministers urging them to accept proposed European restrictions on neonicotinoid pesticides, due to be discussed in Brussels tomorrow. But he said that the restrictions should only be implemented in 2015 if further evidence proves that bees are being harmed.
The pesticides have already been banned in France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia, and by major retailers in the UK. The proposed European restrictions, which look likely to go ahead, have been backed by the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee.
Lochhead, however, argued that the science was not clear-cut. “Given the lack of conclusive evidence I think it would be sensible to carry out a further programme of research over the next two years,” he said.