Bee plea by campaigners

ENVIRONMENTALISTS are calling for a ban on insecticides they say are killing bees.

Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT), Butterfly Conservation Scotland, RSPB, Friends of the Earth Scotland and Buglife have written to Environment Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead, asking him to urge the UK Government to support a ban on the neurotoxin neonicotinoid.

The insecticide, used by farmers to control pests on oilseed rape, potatoes and cereals, is the subject of a vote by member states at the end of next week on European Commission proposals to restrict neonicotinoid use.

In a jointly signed letter to the cabinet secretary, the wildlife campaigners point to the recent scientific review by the European Food Safety Authority which identified “some high acute risks to honeybees”.

The campaigners wrote: “Evidence continues to grow that neonicotinoid use poses a significant risk to pollinating insects. Bees and other pollinating insects play a vital role in food production, worth approximately £43million a year to our economy, as well as being an integral part of natural ecosystems.”

Simon Milne, chief executive of SWT, which has five reserves in the Borders, said: “Scotland should lead the way in supporting the EU’s proposed ban. It seems ridiculous that the UK and Scotland are still advocating these chemicals are safe to use on outdoor crops, when what government and industry should be doing is helping farmers move away from neonicotinoids to a more sustainable means of pest control, which is also beneficial to wildlife.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Scientific advice has highlighted that there are concerns and gaps in the knowledge, as it is important to consider the potential risks to bees from neonicotinoids under field conditions.

“We have asked the Advisory Committee on Pesticides for further urgent advice. This will then help to inform the Scottish Government’s view on next steps.”