Farming Minister Mark Spencer has confirmed the draft UK National Action Plan on Pesticides (NAP) will be published for consultation shortly.
Originally scheduled for December 2020 the final iteration has failed to materialise, despite the plan previous plan published in 2013 only covering a five year period.
He was responding to a written question by Green MP Caroline Lucas who had requested an update on the plan. Mr Spencer said that it would be published “shortly” and confirmed that the final plan would “set out Defra’s ambition to minimise the risks and impacts of pesticides to human health and the environment, including how we intend to increase the uptake of Integrated Pest Management across all sectors”.
He also responded to a question from former environment secretary George Eustice about the timetable for the plan, in which he said it would be published “in due course”.
In his response to Eustice, Spencer also noted that Defra has “not waited for the publication of the NAP to move forward with work to increase its uptake”.
He added that farmers can now sign up to paid integrated pest management actions within the Sustainable Farming Incentive plank of the government’s Environmental Land Management schemes.
Nick Mole, policy officer at Pesticide Action Network (PAN) UK, noted that the news comes as the plan approaches its sixth year of delay and questioned whether the “vital importance” of the “long overdue” document is fully appreciated by Defra.
The green watchdog the Office for Environmental Protection recently described the government’s lack of a pesticides NAP as a “major gap” in policy and regulation post-Brexit.
Mr Mole added that “this interminable delay is having a negative impact on how the UK manages pesticides and that is resulting in the UK failing to meet its own promises on improving the environment, tackling the biodiversity crisis and protecting the public from the harms that pesticides cause.
“The NAP is supposed to be the document that guides the use of pesticides with the aim of reducing the harms and impacts of pesticide use and encouraging more sustainable agriculture.
“There can surely be no more excuse for delaying the publication of the NAP. Defra needs to get its house in order, publish the NAP and get on with the job of protecting people and the environment from the impact of pesticides.”