Margaret Greenwood, MP for Wirral West, has spoken out in a parliamentary debate on the government’s decision to temporarily lift a ban on a pesticide that can be harmful to bees and other pollinators.
The debate came after the government chose to temporarily lift the ban on Cruiser SB, a neonicotinoid pesticide that is banned under UK law except for certain emergency authorisations.
The government stated that this was necessary to tackle the threat to sugar beet crops from the Yellows Virus, carried by aphids, and the lack of alternative insecticide options.
The emergency authorisation comes despite the government’s own expert committee finding that “the requirements for emergency authorisation have not been met” and that pollution from the pesticide would damage river life.
Leading charity The Wildlife Trusts has warned that these neonicotinoids “will have a devastating impact on pollinators, wildflowers, and waterways – at a time when nature needs to be urgently put into recovery.”
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has spoken of the importance of upholding the ban on highly toxic pesticides, such as neonicotinoids, and instead working to support sugar beet farmers to reduce their reliance on these harmful chemicals.
Margaret Greenwood used the debate to highlight a number of concerns that Wirral West residents have raised with her about the matter.
These include that bees play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy environment, and that by allowing the use of deadly pesticides, the government undermines the urgency and incentive to invest in and implement alternative, less harmful control methods.
Margaret Greenwood also paid tribute to the work of Flourish at Ford Way – an environmental and gardening project in the community run by volunteers in Upton which does great work, gardening in a bee-friendly way, keeping hives and producing excellent, organic honey.
Speaking after the debate, Margaret Greenwood MP said, “I was pleased to have the opportunity to speak in this debate. I know from the correspondence I have received that this is an issue that people in Wirral West care deeply about.
“The Wildlife Trusts have been very clear that they believe the government’s authorisation is “short sighted”. They say that, by authorising the use of neonicotinoids, the government is damaging its ability to meet the legal requirement contained in the Environment Act 2021 to halt and reverse the decline of nature by 2030.
“That is because pollinators such as bees are vital to enhancing biodiversity. Without thriving populations of pollinators in the UK, we will struggle to halt the decline of other species.
“The government even accepted, as recently as last December, that there is a “growing weight of scientific evidence that neonicotinoids are harmful to bees and other pollinators.”
“The government should listen to the concerns of wildlife charities, and to the views of their own experts, and think again.”