A draft Government action plan published on Thursday, aimed at safeguarding Britain’s bees and other under-threat pollinators, must be considerably strengthened if it’s going to be effective in halting decline in bee species, including the West Midlands Long Horned Bee.

The Government agreed to introduce a National Pollinator Strategy (NPS) at a Bee Summit organised by Friends of the Earth last year, following intense campaigning by Friends of the Earth.

Research by the University of Reading published last May, showed that the West Midlands Long-Horned Bee is holding on to its northernmost stronghold but is restricted to just a few small areas.

Friends of the Earth welcomes the Government’s acceptance of the need for urgent action to tackle declining bee populations, but says the draft National Pollinator Strategy is inadequate in a number of areas, including:

• Intensive farming. This has a huge impact on the decline in the population of bees and other pollinators, but Government proposals for confronting this are generally weak, vague and reliant on entirely voluntary actions;

• There is little determination to tackle rising pesticide use – despite increasing evidence about the potentially devastating impact on our bees;

• There is far too little onus on developers to safeguard pollinators – better action is needed to improve land use so bee habitats increase with development, not the reverse;

• Funding for the strategy is unclear or inadequate. The Government cannot just rely on people’s goodwill to act. It should take action by putting its money where its mouth is.

Our Campaigns Support Worker Julien Pritchard said:

“The Government rightly recognises the need for an action plan to safeguard Britain’s vital bees – but these proposals need to be considerably strengthened if we’re to get Britain buzzing again.

“Pollinators, such as the West Midlands Long Horned Bee, play a crucial role in our farms, gardens and countryside – we cannot afford to take them for granted.

“The Long Horned Bee, like many bee species across the country, is facing an unprecedented crisis – Ministers must ensure all the threats are tackled, especially those from intensive farming and pesticides.”

Roger Godsiff MP for Hall Green, who has been hugely supportive of the Bee Cause and opened one of bee gardens funded by Birmingham Friends of the Earth, said:

“Bees are a vital part of our ecosystem and we rely on them for many of the foods we eat every day. I urge the Government to strengthen the draft National Pollinator Strategy to protect bees, including the West Midlands Long-Horned Bee. We need serious action to tackle the effects of intensive monocultural farming and rising pesticide use on the UK’s bee populations.”

 Andrew Mitchell MP for Sutton Coldfield said:

“I support the campaign by Friends of the Earth to reverse the decline of Britain’s honey and wild bees and share the view that pollinators play a vital role in the security of our food supply and the quality of our natural environment. I stay in close contact with Sutton Coldfield’s beekeepers and fully appreciate the need to stop the decline in our bee population.

“I am hopeful the National Pollinator Strategy will lay out plans to improve our understanding of the abundance, diversity and role of pollinators over the next three to five years and identify any necessary additional actions to protect our nation’s bees. I hope that government will continue to work with organisations such as Friends of the Earth during the consultation period to ensure that the strategy is as strong as possible.

Friends of the Earth are asking people to sign the petition for a stronger bee action plan, as well encouraging people to respond to the consultation.