Bees and other pollinators play an essential role in our food production and are vital to biodiversity. That is why the Government has taken action to safeguard these insects, such as the set out of a National Pollinator Strategy. This strategy builds on the Government's existing policies on improving environmental management and lays out plans to improve the understanding of the abundance, diversity and role of pollinators over the next five years. It will also identify additional actions that need to be taken.
The Department for Agriculture, Animals, Food and Rural Affairs will be responsible for the delivery of this Strategy. The department plans to work with Natural England and the Pollinator Advisory Steering Group to develop an implementation plan. This will be in place within six months of its publication.
For now, pesticides are tightly regulated and decisions on the approval of these substances are made at the European level. Since December 2013, three of the five currently approved neonicotinoids are not permitted for use on a wide range of crops considered attractive to bees. The Government have put in place these restrictions in full. They are not time-limited and will remain in place, unless the European Commission decides to change them.
The European Food Safety Authority has begun a review of the science relating to neonicotinoids and bees, which is expected to conclude in the summer. This includes looking at the effects on bees caused by seed treatments, and uses of the restricted pesticides in the form of granules. The Government has said that it will contribute fully to this review, because any decisions must be based on solid evidence. However, restrictions on neonicotinoids will not be removed if the evidence shows that they should remain.
The strategy aims to provide a framework for evidence gathering action that will help improve the understanding of current trends, values and the impact of pressures. While building this evidence base, the Strategy outlines that there are policy actions that the government and others can actively take now in order to protect pollinators.