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Bees and Pollinators

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 12th March 2015.

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Photo of Andrew Rosindell Andrew Rosindell Conservative, Romford 9:30 am, 12th March 2015

What assessment she has made of the role the public can play in supporting bees and pollinators.

Photo of Jeremy Lefroy Jeremy Lefroy Conservative, Stafford

What assessment she has made of the role the public can play in supporting bees and pollinators

Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

In November we published the national pollinator strategy, a 10-year plan to help pollinators to thrive, which involves farmers, major landowners and the public. People can help in their gardens, schools or local parks by leaving areas wild for pollinators, or ensuring that food sources are available throughout the year.

Photo of Andrew Rosindell Andrew Rosindell Conservative, Romford

Will the Secretary of State update me on how the 2013 United Kingdom national action plan for sustainable use of pesticides is being reviewed, so that the use of pesticides by local authorities in particular can be reduced?

Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

We will update the action plan by 2017 in line with European Union requirements. Many local authorities are involved in our national pollinator strategy: Bristol, Wyre Forest and Peterborough are all taking measures to plant pollinator-friendly wild flowers.

Photo of Jeremy Lefroy Jeremy Lefroy Conservative, Stafford

Last month, at the Stafford green arts festival, “There is no planet B”, I was presented with a book that contained a number of concerns raised by my constituents, including the threat to bees and pollinators. What news can I give them of the work being done across the country to protect and preserve pollinators, which are so essential for food production?

Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

My hon. Friend is absolutely right: pollinators are vital for our £100 billion food and farming industry, and are estimated to be worth £430 million to our economy in services alone. That is why we launched the national pollinator strategy, which will include a wild pollinator and wildlife element in the new countryside stewardship scheme. That means that farmers will have a strong incentive to help pollinators on their land.

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman Conservative, Meriden

I am pleased to see that Network Rail has joined the Government’s strategy on pollinators, but is my right hon. Friend aware that its practice of removing all vegetation along the railway embankments destroys the habitats of bees and pollinators, and no assurances have been given to my constituents in Hampton-in-Arden that there will be an offset for this biodiversity loss?

Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I thank my right hon. Friend for making that point. It is good news that Network Rail, the Highways Agency and other major organisations, including the National Trust, have signed up to the pollinator strategy, and I am certainly very happy to take up that specific point with Network Rail, because major landowners can do so much to make sure that areas are available for pollinators to thrive.