Bee-killing pesticides found at wildlife-threatening levels in rivers around the country

Wildlife campaigners are warning that harmful neonicotinoid pesticide levels can be found in rivers around England, according to new research published today. 

The warning comes as  environmental groups wait to hear if one banned toxic neonicotinoid pesticide – Thiamethoxam – will be approved by the Government for English sugar beet farm use for a fourth consecutive year. This issue was discussed at the latest meeting of the Expert Committee on Pesticides on 12 Sept and it is likely the Government is currently considering its decision on the use of Thiamethoxam (in Cruiser SB) for 2024 crops.

The Rivers Trust and Wildlife and Countryside Link conducted new analysis of neonicotinoid pesticides using official Environment Agency data from the last three years (2020-2022), for the ‘Chemical Cocktail’ campaign, and found that:

  • 1 or more of 5 harmful neonics analysed were found in more than 1 in 10 English river sites tested by the Environment Agency (29 of 283 sites).
  • At 55% of these 29 sites one or more neonics were above the EU’s proposed Environmental Quality Standard (EQS) – the level deemed safe for aquatic wildlife. With 21% of sites having one or more neonics at over 4 times the safe level.
  • The neonics Clothianidin and Imidacloprid were most prevalent and most exceeded the proposed EQS. 28% of Clothianidin site detections and 47% of Imidacloprid site detections were over the proposed EU safe levels.
  • The highest neonic concentrations were detected in the East of England, South East and West Mids in rivers including the Rivers Ivel, Waveney, Nene, Ouse and Tame. The highest number of neonics found at single sites were detected in Yorks and Humber, the West Mids and E of England.

Nick Mole, policy officer at PAN UK, said:

“The ongoing presence of neonicotinoids and other pesticides in the UK’s waterways is hugely concerning. These chemicals are harming aquatic ecosystems and wider biodiversity at a time when we should be doing everything possible to protect and increase nature throughout the UK. There must be no more ‘emergency’ extensions for the use of banned pesticides and the UK government must introduce a robust, effective and well-funded monitoring system for all UK waterbodies as a matter of urgency.”



Steps to unlocking water data capability

The water sector has made good progress with digitisation – the capturing of data for storage and processing - writes Ruth Clarke, head of...

Steve Vick International’s innovative grout filling project for Wales & West Utilities in Aberdare

Steve Vick International's Contract Services team recently completed a challenging project in Aberdare, Wales, commissioned by Wales & West Utilities and Transport for Wales. ...

New AUMA actuators keep water in Welsh town’s taps flowing 

Water supplies to over 3,000 residents in the Welsh seaside town of Tywyn will continue to flow uninterrupted thanks to new state-of-the-art, remotely controlled...

New entry-level machine now available from Bucher Municipal

Bucher Municipal has announced a new addition to its sewer cleaner range. The new CityFlex C40 Viking unit provides an entry level product to...