BARBARA YOUNG, chief executive of the Environment Agency, has praised the Voluntary Initiative for reducing the amount of pesticide pollution.

“The Voluntary Initiative on pesticides has been a wonderful success, and is a prime example of industry and government working together,” said Baroness Young.

“We hope to deliver the same success on a plastics initiative with the agricultural industry,” she added, during the Conservative Party conference on Mon (Oct 4).

The Baroness was addressing a fringe meeting at the conference in Bournemouth titled: Environment Agency: Cutting Red Tape for Greener Business.

The panel of speakers included Digby Jones, director of the Confederation of British Industry, Baroness Young and shadow DEFRA secretary Tim Yeo.

Mr Jones told delegates that he was impressed by the responsibility that his member businesses showed towards the environment.

He added that those businesses that acted responsibly were proud to wear their environmental credentials on their sleeve.

“It‘s morally the right thing to do, but it‘s also good commercial sense; people are proud to work for environmentally friendly businesses,” said Mr Jones.

But he added that it wasn‘t a one-country crusade and that international pressure had to be put on the United States to ratify the Kyoto agreement.

Baroness Young told the meeting that she shared Mr Jones‘s disappointment of the US‘s decision not to adopt the protocol.

But she said the UK could learn a lot from US on how to punish companies who acted irresponsibly towards the environment.

“Instead of the fine just going in to the pot, those businesses could be responsible for the clean-up.

“It softens the blow and reduces the tendency for that company to re-offend,” said Baroness Young.

She added that she would like to see more CAP funds re-directed to environmental measures but was aware of the intentions of the French and Germans to continue propping up their farmers with direct aid.

She also had concerns that further reforms would make easier for the Chancellor to claim some of the money.