Our Co-ordinator sent a letter today to David Cameron, Prime Minister, on behalf of Eastbourne & District Friends of the Earth, to help increase the pressure on him to respond to the Bee Cause campaign in the run-up to the imminent Bee Summit in London that Friends of the Earth will be co-hosting:
David Cameron, 10 Downing Street, London SW1A 2AA
Date: 20th June 2013
Dear Prime Minister,
It was a real pleasure to learn recently during Prime Minister’s Questions of your interest in and deep concern for bees. You said ‘If we do not look after our bee populations, very serious consequences will follow.’
We could not agree more. Over the past year, since the launch of Friends of the Earth’s Bee Cause campaign, we have been doing everything we can to reverse the extremely worrying decline in British bee numbers. In Eastbourne we’ve been inviting local people to sign the petition to you urging you to set up a National Bee Action Plan, and hundreds have done so, including our local MP, Stephen Lloyd. We have held several Bee Walks to raise awareness in our local community about all our wild bees and the plants they depend on. We have also persuaded Eastbourne Borough Council to formally adopt the Bee Cause, and the council has now changed the appearance of many of the local parks and gardens by creating many new Bee Worlds containing lots of bee-friendly plants and trees. Many of our volunteers have worked with other local community groups to help create some of those new Bee Worlds, as you can see from the enclosed press clipping. But now we urgently need your help.
Bee decline has now gone from a serious problem to a crisis. Figures published by the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA)last week show that a third of all honey bee colonies in England were lost over the winter of 2012/2013 – the worst figures since records began and double the losses of the previous year. A further 47 species of bee are vulnerable or endangered in the UK and many more of our treasured British solitary and bumble bees are being found in ever smaller areas of the country.
The Bee Cause campaign has met with an overwhelming response; people really want to see action to save our bees. More than 70,000 people have signed a petition asking you and your Government to put in place an urgent Bee Action Plan. In addition, organisations such as the Wildlife Trusts and the Women’s Institute and many beekeeping associations, companies such as B&Q and the Cooperative Group and more than 200 MPs have signed our Bee Action Plan statement.
Our proposal for a Bee Action Plan goes way beyond the pesticides issue. Though it is important and we welcome the two-year ban on neonicotinoid insecticides coming into force in December, the loss of habitat in urban and rural areas and the lack of monitoring and stewardship of our vital wild bees are at least as important as factors in their decline; hence the need for a holistic, comprehensive plan.
Progress with Defra has been slow. Lord de Mauley, the Minister into whose portfolio bee welfare falls, has shown genuine and encouraging interest in a Bee Action Plan, but this has not yet been matched by any action or response commensurate with the scale and urgency of the problem.
Bees therefore need your intervention. On 28 June at the UK’s largest and most significant ever Bee Summit, which Friends of the Earth will host jointly with the Womens’ Institute, Waitrose and the Cooperative Group, we plan to launch a group, including farmers, beekeepers, retailers, growers, scientists and conservation organisations as well as government officials to take forward work on a Bee Action Plan. Soon thereafter, it will begin work on a UK-wide, comprehensive Bee Action Plan.
When Lord de Mauley takes to the podium during the Summit, he will be presented with the greatest possible opportunity to launch a government-led Bee Action Plan. Many of those present, such as Waitrose with its seven-point plan for pollinators, are already making great progress and will hugely welcome the coordination and leadership of government. They will also be very happy to help and be part of the effort that reverses the decline of Britain’s bees.
Your support for a government Bee Action Plan prior to our summit would send a clear and irresistible signal to all those involved to move from discussion to action.
We urge you to step in. Bees need you and they need a government-driven Bee Action Plan.
Andrew Durling, Co-ordinator,
Eastbourne & District Friends of the Earth.