Legal challenge to the Government's neonicotinoid authorisations thrown out

The NFU says it is pleased that the High Court has cut short Friends of the Earth's legal challenge to the Government's neonicotinoid authorisations today.

Guy Smith
Guy Smith

The environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth attempted to bring a legal challenge against the Government’s decision to grant the NFU’s emergency authorisations for two neonicotinoid-based plant protection products for use on oil seed rape seeds this autumn. The Court concluded today that the challenge is "unarguable on all the grounds".

The High Court ruling relates to the legal process surrounding the Government’s decision in July this year and whether it had satisfied the criteria for the temporary authorised use of the banned pesticide set out in European law.

NFU vice president Guy Smith said: "I’m extremely pleased with today’s outcome.  The NFU has played an active role in this case, and we have been working hard to ensure that our members’ interests have been represented to the Court.

"The emergency authorisation mechanism is crucial for Member States to have. The NFU has been urging governments at an EU and domestic level to look to sound science as a basis for restrictions on plant protection products as part of the Healthy Harvest campaign.

"Throughout the application process and in our representations in this case the NFU has sought to approach what can be a highly charged issue in a sober, balanced manner that looks after the interests of growers while respecting the needs of the wildlife that uses farm crops as habitat."

NFU combinable crops board chairman Mike Hambly said: "The NFU has fought for many months for its members who are struggling to establish oilseed rape crops in areas of high cabbage stem flea beetle pressure. Since restrictions on neonicotinoid use were put in place in December 2013, the damage caused by this pest has been a widespread problem. The seed treatment provides an efficient and targeted solution."

Friends of the Earth bee campaigner Dave Timms said: "It’s extremely disappointing that our application to challenge the Government’s decision to allow the use of banned, bee-harming pesticides has been turned down. We believe this ruling is flawed, ignores important facts and gives too much credibility to pesticide industry evidence to support the use of its own products. We are now considering an appeal.

"Our legal challenge has revealed fundamental flaws with the decision-making process for these emergency authorisations, which was shrouded in secrecy until the government was forced to provide crucial papers to us.
"The Government’s decision was too dependent on evidence provided by the pesticide firms, who have a direct commercial interest in these chemicals and seeing the ban on neonicotinoids lifted.

"The Government must urgently address how it has handled its approval of the use of these chemicals or risk further undermining public confidence in its ability to safely regulate pesticides to protect bees and our environment.


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